Europe suspends Pakistan International Airlines for fake pilot licenses


Almost a third of Pakistan International Airlines pilots were punished for having fake licenses. (Proceedings)

Karachi:

Regulators have banned Pakistan International Airlines from the European Union for six months after the state airline punished nearly a third of its pilots for having false or dubious licenses, officials said Tuesday.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) told PIA “it is still not sure” whether all the remaining pilots are properly qualified and “have lost confidence” in the airline, PIA spokesman Abdullah told AFP Khan.

In a statement, EASA said it had suspended PIA and a smaller private airline in Pakistan “in light of the recent investigation reported in the Pakistani Parliament which revealed that a large portion of pilot licenses issued in Pakistan are invalid.” .

PIA has only flown limited international flights for months as a result of the coronavirus.

The resumption of domestic operations last month was followed by an accident attributed to the pilot’s mistake that killed 98 people.

PIA had recently resumed reservations for five European capitals, including Paris, Milan and Barcelona.

Flights to Britain, which is no longer in the EU, have not been affected, Khan said.

The EU suspension is the latest consequence of PIA after the aviation minister told parliament last week that a government review found that 262 of Pakistan’s 860 active pilots have false licenses or cheated on exams.

More than half of them were from PIA, and the airline said it would immediately land 141 of its 434 pilots.

EASA said it suspended PIA “due to concerns about the ability of the competent authorities to ensure that Pakistani air operators comply with applicable international standards at all times.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan told parliament that he would reform the PIA and other government institutions.

“I want to tell my nation: We have no choice, reforms are inevitable,” he said Tuesday.

Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said reforms aimed at restructuring the PIA will be completed by the end of the year.

On May 22, a PIA flight crashed into houses in Karachi, killing all 97 people on board the plane and one child on the ground.

Investigators blamed two pilots, who were talking about the coronavirus while trying to land the Airbus A320 without lowering the wheels.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated channel.)

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