Swiss ban planemaker Pilatus from operating in Saudi Arabia, UAE

FILE PHOTO: A Pilatus logo is pictured on the company booth during the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) at Cointrin airport in Geneva

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland has banned planemaker Pilatus from operating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), saying on Wednesday the company had breached Swiss rules on giving logistical support to foreign armed forces now engaged in a war in Yemen.

The Swiss foreign ministry said it had gathered "sufficient evidence" that Pilatus failed to declare activities backing foreign militaries, as required by Swiss law, and added it has reported the shortcomings to the nation's attorney general for further investigation.

The Swiss government has been investigating Pilatus for months. In 2017 the company signed a contract with Saudi Arabia to support a fleet of PC-21 turboprop planes operated by the Royal Saudi Air Force, according to the Stans-based firm's annual report.

The Western-backed Sunni Muslim coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE intervened in Yemen in 2015, helping plunge the Middle Eastern country into a humanitarian crisis.

"Support services supplied by Pilatus Aircraft to the armed forces of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates... are incompatible with the federal government's foreign policy objectives," the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) said in a statement. "The FDFA has therefore called for these services to be discontinued."

Privately held Pilatus now has 90 days to pull out of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the FDFA said, adding the company could still supply armed forces in Qatar and Jordan.

"Pilatus Aircraft Ltd will review the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs' decision and provide a response in due course," the company said.


(Reporting by John Miller, editing by John Revill)