Shaheen Air International (NL, Karachi Int'l) Chairman Kashif Mehmud Sehbai and CEO Ehsan Khalid Sehbai have reportedly fled Pakistan to evade prosecution for the alleged mountain of debt incurred by the carrier, Dawn reported.

"We had written to the interior ministry in September last to immediately place on the Exit Control List the names of SAI Chairman Kashif Mehmud Sehbai and Chief Executive Officer Ehsan Khalid Sehbai as they may flee Pakistan. However, our request was not entertained by the authorities concerned and both owners of Shaheen Air International managed to leave the country," an official from the Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority (PkCAA) said.

The carrier was grounded permanently by the PkCAA in October 2018 after months of on-off activity amid the ongoing discussion related to the carrier's tax debts. The total tax debt incurred by the carrier amounts to PKR1.36 billion rupees (USD9.8 million). It is estimated that Shaheen Air incurred further billions of rupees in debts for unpaid salaries and other liabilities.

The PkCAA said it would try to pursue the owners of the airline to recover the debts from them personally. It also requested the Federal Investigation Agency to initiate action against the airline.

Meanwhile, the carrier still continues to pay its debts once it is cleared to resume operations.

"We have not said we will not clear our liability. The SAI owners had gone abroad to arrange funds for the purpose. We request the CAA to let us resume the SAI flight operations so that we could pay (outstanding) salaries to the staff," Acting CEO Javed Sehbai said.