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Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has emerged as a non-filer of Federal Excise Duty (FED ) and Sales Tax (ST) returns since December 2020 with arrears running into the billions of rupees, it was learnt on Tuesday.

As per details available with Business Recorder, the state-owned carrier has to pay taxes to the tune of Rs26.16 billion to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), out of which an amount of Rs7.982 billion has been put off by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet.

However, orders of no-stay to the amount of Rs16.045 billion has still not been recovered, it was learnt. These amounts have been piling up since 2017. Separately, income tax recoverable has reached Rs2.13 billion, accumulating gradually since the Tax Year 2015 all the way through to date.

Recovered amount is a meager Rs495 million so far.

Officials privy to the development indicated that arrest warrants under section 22 of the FED Act 2005 are being issued.

The development comes as another blow for the national carrier that has been looking to turn around its fortunes for a number of years.

Earlier this month, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan informed the Senate that a total of 819 PIA employees have been dismissed from service on the basis of fake/bogus/tempered academic documents and their cases referred to FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) for criminal proceedings.

The aviation minister stated that cases against the remaining 21 employees, out of 840 employees, were underway.

In a separate development denting the prospects of a revival of PIA’s operations in the continent, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said that it will conduct an audit of the operator prior to lifting the suspension.

PIA’s Europe operations were suspended in 2020 over safety concerns, after Europe's aviation regulator banned Pakistani airlines from its airspace following a scandal over dubious pilot licences.

However, earlier this month the UN's aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), gave Pakistan's aviation regulator the all-clear in terms of resolving significant safety concerns.

In response to the development, EASA said that the removal of Significant Safety Concern (SSC) by ICAO does not affect the European ban on the flights as EASA still needs to evaluate the performance of Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA).