EU bans PIA over fake licence scam
EASA DECISION IN THE WAKE OF REPORTS OF ‘DUBIOUS’ PILOT LICENCES
The European Union’s aviation safety agency said yesterday that Pakistan’s national airline will not be allowed to fly into Europe for at least six months after the country’s aviation minister revealed that nearly a third of Pakistani pilots had cheated on their pilot’s exams.
Pakistan International Airlines spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said PIA has not been flying to Europe because of the pandemic. But the airline had hoped to resume its flights to Oslo, Copenhagen, Paris, Barcelona and Milan within the next two months. “It is hurting us really bad,’’ he said of the pilots scandal.
An inquiry into a May 22 Airbus A320 crash that killed 97 people at the southern port city of Karachi resulted in the stunning revelation that 260 of 860 pilots in Pakistan had cheated on their pilots exams, but were still given licences by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was dealt a major blow yesterday after European nations barred it from operating flights to the continent for a period of six months starting today.
The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) announced the decision, the national carrier’s spokesperson said.
“EASA has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorisation to operate to the EU member states for a period of six months effective July 1, 2020, with the right to appeal against this decision,” a PIA statement said.
The suspension will take effect today at 12 noon. All PIA flights to Europe have been temporarily cancelled.
“Those who have a PIA booking can move the date forward or get a refund,” the spokesperson said. “We are in touch with the agency and taking steps to address their concern,” he added.
The spokesperson said that he hoped the suspension would end soon due to the steps being taken by the government and the administration.
Suspension of flights to Europe is a big blow to the airline and it will also hamper the repatriation process of stranded Pakistanis. The airline, which is already bleeding financially, has come under scanner after the allegation of having pilots with ‘fake’ flying licences. The airline has already grounded 141 pilots with dubious flying licences.
Pakistan Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar had earlier announced the qualifications of 262 pilots in Pakistan are “dubious”. The pilots in the line of fire include 141 from PIA, nine from Air Blue and 10 from Serene Airline.
The startling revelations of ‘fake pilots’ came as the minister presented the interim report on the probe into the May 22 PIA plane crash causing death of 97 passengers.