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CAA threatens to directly collect airport fees from travellers

RAWALPINDI: The heavily defaulting national airline is facing more turmoil as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has threatened to directly collect all applicable airport fees from domestic and international passengers from next month.

In another punitive action, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will be barred from using a number of facilities, including aircraft power supply, passenger bridges and pre-conditioning facilities, beginning from November until it paid all outstanding dues to the the aviation authority, said a CAA source on Wednesday.

PIA, the source said, had collected Rs600 million from passengers in different fees until August 31, but paid only Rs550m to the CAA. Besides, Rs400m received from travellers on other accounts has not been transfer­red to the CAA. This amount pertains to airport charges, security char­ges and embarkation fee, among others.

PIA spokesman says airline can’t pay all dues at once

The CAA, which is also facing financial difficulties, said PIA had been asked to discontinue the collection of fees and charges from passengers after Sept 30 in its ticket sale.

A notification issued by the CAA director general stated: “Passenger-related charges (embarkation fees, airport charges, security charges, etc) applicable on domestic and international departing passengers of Pakis­tan International Airline Corporation Limited (PIACL) will be collected by CAA irrespective of whether such char­­ges may have already been collected by PIACL before this date from passengers departing from October 1, 2021.”

The CAA said that in case of non-payment of CAA dues, facilities, including the common-use passenger processing system (CUPPS), baggage reconciliation system (BRS), pre-conditioning facility, avio bridges and aircraft power supply, would no longer be available to PIA from Nov 1.

The CAA said that it had been decided at a meeting on May 25 that PIACL would pay Rs150m and Rs100m on a monthly basis from May on account of dues relating to passenger-related charges and CUPPS/BRS charges, respectively.

“Up till August 31, 2021 as per commitment total payables on account of passenger-related charges were Rs600 million and CUPPS/BRS charges were Rs400 million. It is highly unfortunate that out of these payables, the PIACL has paid only Rs550 million on account of passenger-related charges and has not made any payment on account of UPPS/BRS charges till September 20,2021,” the CAA notification said.

PIACL owed Rs127.7bn to the aviation authority, it added.

On the other hand, PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan said that under a government directive, all previous liabilities of the airline, including those owed to the CAA, were frozen until PIA’s reforms and balance sheet restructuring, which had already been approved in principle by the government, were implemented.

He said that due to the situation arising out of Covid-19 and previous liabilities, PIA could not pay all the dues at once at this moment. The matter would be addressed by the government, the spokesman said.

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