EU suspends flights by Pakistan’s state airline over pilots’ fake licenses
Islamabad, Jun 30 (efe-epa).- The European Air Safety Agency (EASA) on Tuesday suspended the authorization of the Pakistan International Airlines – the state carrier of the South Asian country – for operating in European territory for six months following the revelation that one-third of all Pakistani pilots may had been using fake licenses.
“European Union Air Safety Agency has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorization to operate to the EU member states for a period of 6 months effective July 1, 2020,” the PIA said in a statement.
The PIA operates flights to Denmark, Norway, France, Italy and Spain, countries which have a sizable Pakistani diaspora.
The airline did not mention the reason for the suspension, but the EASA referred to the recent scandal caused by Pakistani authorities revealing that 262 of the total 860 pilots in the country had been using fake licenses, including 150 working for the state airline.
“EASA is concerned about the validity of the Pakistani pilot licenses and that Pakistan, as the State of operator, is currently not capable to certify and oversee its operators and aircraft in accordance with applicable international standards,” the European regulator said in a letter send to PIA, accessed by EFE.
“EASA therefore no longer has confidence in Pakistan, as the State of operator,” it added.
The agency mentioned that Pakistani Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had admitted in the parliament last week that around one third of all the pilots in the country were found to be carrying fake licenses.
The minister said a few days later that 28 pilots were going to be fired, while investigations continue over the rest of the licenses as part of a probe that began in February 2019.
Meanwhile the PIA has announced that it ss grounding 141 pilots with dubious credentials while investigating their validity. .
The EASA also referred to the PIA passenger plane crash on May 22 that killed 98 people, with preliminary investigations pointing to multiple violations of safety procedures.
Pakistan is no stranger to plane crashes and suffered one of its worst air tragedies in 2010 when 152 people died in an air accident near Islamabad. Two years later, another plane crash near the capital killed 138 people. EFE-EPA