Islamabad, Jul 1 (efe-epa).- Pakistan on Wednesday announced reforms in its airlines and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), following a scandal over one-third of the country’s pilots flying with fake or dubious licenses that led to the European Union suspending all flights by the state-run Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
“The process of reforms has been initiated in the Civil Aviation Authority and all Pakistani airlines to ensure the sanctity of proper licensing and fulfillment of all requirements by the pilots,” Information Minister Shibli Faraz said in a press conference after the decision was taken in a cabinet meeting earlier on Wednesday.
“A thorough forensic review has identified various instances where licensing requirements were suspect, not fully adhering to the requirements of all examinations,” the minister added.
Faraz did not explain the reforms in detail but said that all identified “suspect” pilots have been grounded with effect from Jun 25, while five officials of the CAA had been suspended for instances of “administrative lapses” and an inquiry had been ordered against them.
Nearly one-third of Pakistan’s 860 active pilots had been found to be carrying “dubious” credentials.
The information was first disclosed by Pakistani Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan in the parliament last week while presenting a preliminary investigation report about the PIA plane crash in Karachi on May 22 in which 98 people were killed.
The report had blamed errors by the air traffic control officials and especially the pilots for the accident, although insisting that the two aviators had adequate “qualifications and experience.”
As a result of the fake license scandal, the European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) on Tuesday suspended the PIA’s authorization for operating in European territory for six months, while the United Kingdom has also announced a similar decision.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday held a phone conversation with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell and sought a review of the EASA decision.
Qureshi “underlined that the steps being taken by the government were to ensure highest level of flight safety in PIA operations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
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