Pakistan's tax agency has again frozen bank accounts operated by PIA - Pakistan International Airlines (PK, Islamabad International), according to that country's Dawn newspaper. The Federal Board of Revenue (FRB) claims the state-owned carrier owes it PKR2.8 billion Pakistani rupees (USD9.8 million), a figure PIA disputes, saying the amount outstanding is more like PKR1.3 billion (USD4.5 million).

The FRB regularly freezes the airline's bank accounts in what appears to be a tactic to bring PIA to the negotiating table and extract some payment. In April, ch-aviation also reported that the tax agency seized PKR1.3 billion in unpaid taxes from the airline's bank accounts, resulting in problems processing employee payroll at PIA. A spokesman for PIA told ch-aviation that the airline was already in the process of resolving the current freezing order.

PIA's latest imbroglio with the FRB comes as it reportedly closes in on a deal with European Union and United Kingdom authorities to resume flights to both jurisdictions. The airline reportedly passed an initial European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) audit after that entity banned PIA flights in 2020 over a fake pilot license scam, with the United Kingdom doing likewise. Before the ban, European and UK flights made up 37% of PIA's revenue.

Meanwhile, further contributing to PIA's financial difficulties, the Dawn outlet also reports that the PIA Officers' Association is opposed to the carrier's proposed restructuring, instead wanting pay rises. Pakistan's Aviation Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique wants to split the airline into two entities, transferring the PKR742 billion (USD2.5 billion) in loan liabilities and all the properties owned by PIA to one entity, and using the second, debt-free entity to run the airline, the operations of which would be outsourced to the private sector.

"If PIA is not restructured, it may shut down in one and a half years," he warned via his social media accounts. "We also have to hand over the operation of PIA to the private sector to make it a top-class airline." But Dawn cites Safdar Anjum, general secretary of the officer's association, saying that a meeting of members held on July 27 had rejected the proposed splitting of the airline. PIA's spokesman told ch-aviation that the restructuring was critically needed and not optional. "(The) pilots association address the concerns of their constituency and that concern has our respect," he said. "However a greater understanding would be developed with all the stake holders, once the restructuring plan is finalized in all its manifestations and components. "

Separately, another outlet reports that attempts to repatriate two aircraft stored at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta for several years have stalled despite PIA sending employees there several times to bring the planes back. Pakistani media accuse those employees of going "sightseeing" instead. A320-200s AP-BLY (msn 2926) and AP-BLZ (msn 2944) were ferried to Jakarta for maintenance purposes, but have never returned to Pakistan. The Jarasat outlet reports it is costing PIA PKR600,000 (USD21,000) per month in parking fees.

The outlet said the repatriation delays were due to "technical and legal reasons." The airline advised it that talks were underway with the lessor to buy the two aircraft. He says the A320-200s will return to PIA's fleet and resume flying if this occurs.