National flag carrier’s operations to China also suspended for three weeks after 10 travelers from Pakistan test positive for novel coronavirus
A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Boeing 777 was on Friday detained in Malaysia over a legal dispute between the national flag carrier and another party, according to a statement by the airline.
In its statement, which was posted on Twitter, PIA said: “A PIA aircraft has been held back by a local court in Malaysia taking a one-sided decision pertaining to a legal dispute between PIA and another party pending in a U.K. court.” It added that all the passengers who had been set to travel on the flight were being looked after, and “alternate arrangements for their travel have been finalized.”
The flag carrier termed the situation “unacceptable” and said it was trying to resolve it. “PIA has engaged support from the government of Pakistan to take up this matter using diplomatic channels,” it added.
According to local media, the legal dispute is over a leasing agreement. PIA allegedly has not paid the amount due to a leasing company, and the plane has been seized pending resolution of the dispute. Reportedly, the aircraft is registered as AP-BMH, and is a former Vietnam Airline plane that was leased from Irish firm Aercap.
China flights suspended
Separately, China has imposed a three-week ban on all PIA flights due to 10 Pakistani passengers testing positive for the novel coronavirus upon arrival despite possessing negative tests prior to travel. PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez confirmed to local media the flights had been “temporarily halted.”
According to sources, the suspension was a direct result of Pakistanis testing positive for COVID-19 upon arrival to China, despite having negative tests prior to travel. PIA operates two weekly flights to and from China, potentially affecting six flights with the suspension.
The novel coronavirus originated in China, but it has largely managed to contain the pandemic, with epicenter Wuhan recently celebrating with large public gatherings and events. However, Beijing reported the country’s highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months last week, resulting in authorities putting more than 28 million people under lockdown to curb its spread.