PIA plane seized in Malaysia over lease dispute released

KARACHI, (MANEND NEWS): A Kuala Lumpur court on Wednesday ordered to release the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft which was seized over a lease dispute earlier this month.

According to a PIA spokesperson, the airline reached an agreement with the leasing firm for an out-of-court settlement after which the court issued the release order.

“The airline will bring the plane back to the country as a commercial flight for which PIA staff is being sent to Malaysia,” he said.

Malaysian authorities seized the Boeing 777 aircraft on Jan 15 after a court allowed an application by the plane’s lessor, Peregrine Aviation Charlie Limited, to keep it grounded pending the outcome of a $14 million lease dispute with PIA in a UK court.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court ordered the immediate release of the plane after both sides said they had reached an amicable settlement to the dispute, involving two planes leased to the PIA, a lawyer representing the airline told a news agency.

“Peregrine has agreed to withdraw its suit against PIAC (Pakistan International Airlines Corp) and for the injunction orders to be set aside,” said PIA counsel Kwan Will Sen.

“With this, the two Boeing aircraft operated by PIAC would be released with immediate effect.”

The two jets were 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.

Last week, the PIA informed a judge at the London High Court that it has paid around $7 million (Rs1.124 billion) to the Peregrine Aviation Charlie Limited in the case pertaining to two jets leased to it by the company.

During the hearing, lawyers for both the PIA and the airliner had sought an adjournment to a later date in the hope that the full amount will be paid through an agreement without the court issuing any order against the PIA.

The court heard that the PIA didn’t make payments since it asked for the amendment to its claim in July. The court was told the PIA owed $580,000 per month to the airliner but it didn’t pay and initiated litigation.

The leasing company had filed a case against the PIA in the London High Court in October 2020 for its failure to pay the leasing fee worth about $14 million, which had been pending for six months.

In response, the PIA had maintained that since the COVID-19 pandemic affected the aviation industry, there should be a reduction in the overhead charges.

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