Emirates, Qatar Airways to fly home stranded passengers of seized PIA jet

ISLAMABAD: The passengers on board a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) held back by Malaysian authorities on Friday will return via Emirates and Qatar Airways flights on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

The Boeing 777 aircraft was seized after a court order, a PIA spokesman said, and alternative arrangements were being made for 172 passengers due to fly from Kuala Lumpur back to Pakistan. The case involved a $14 million lease dispute, the airline said.

Responding to the development, the Foreign Office said its diplomatic mission in Malaysia was in close contact with relevant authorities over the detained plane and its stranded passengers.

Abdullah Hafeez Niazi, a spokesperson for the carrier, said the situation was “unacceptable” and that the airline’s legal team would pursue the matter with the government’s official and diplomatic assistance.

“PIA’s Kuala Lumpur flight’s passengers will reach Islamabad in the evening today (Saturday),” a PIA handout said Saturday and added the airline’s ground staff in Dubai and Doha were ensuring the stranded passengers were well taken care of.

According to orders passed by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Thursday and seen by Reuters, the plaintiff of the case is Peregrine Aviation Charlie Limited and the matter pertains to two jets leased to PIA by Dublin-based AerCap, the world’s largest aircraft lessor, in 2015.

They are part of a portfolio that AerCap sold to Peregrine Aviation Co Ltd, an investment unit of NCB Capital, the brokerage arm of National Commercial Bank SJSC, in 2018.

According to the interim injunction, PIA is restrained from moving two aircraft in its fleet — a Boeing 777-200ER with serial number 32716 and a Boeing 777-200ER with serial number 32717 — once they have landed or parked at Kuala Lumpur International Airport until a further hearing on the matter later this month.

Tracking data from Flightradar24 showed only one of the two Boeing 777s covered by the court order is currently in Kuala Lumpur. The other was last recorded in Karachi last month.

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