Aircraft company banned from providing services to Saudi Arabia

In 2017 Pilatus and the Saudi air force agreed a five-year maintenance deal for 55 PC-21 military training aircraft. © Keystone/Christian Beutler

The Swiss foreign ministry has banned the aircraft manufacturer Pilatus from operating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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“There is sufficient evidence that Pilatus Aircraft failed to comply with its statutory obligations,” a government statement said on Wednesday.

The support services supplied to the armed forces of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which include technical support, replacement parts management and fixing problems with the Pilatus PC-21 aircraft, are “not compatible with the government’s foreign policy objectives”, it added.

The company was given 90 days to pull out of these countries. The foreign ministry also reported the case to the Office of the Attorney General for a criminal investigation.

Pilatus chairman Oscar Schwenk has repeatedly rejected the allegations, saying the company’s activities in Saudi Arabia are covered by a 2012 export permit.

Probe

Last October, the foreign ministry launched an investigation into the services supplied by Pilatus to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Jordan and stepped up the probe in January.

However, the ministry says there are no grounds for banning the company from carrying out maintenance services for the armed forces of Qatar and Jordan.

Pilatus has helped Saudi Arabia to maintain military training aircraft. The Middle East country is involved in an armed conflict with Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is a key partner for Switzerland in the Arab world and the Middle East region.

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