Europe suspends Pakistan International Airlines over fake pilot licenses

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Nearly a third of the pilots of Pakistan International Airlines were grounded for holding false licenses. (File)

Karachi:

Regulatory authorities have banned Pakistan International Airlines from leaving the European Union for six months after the common carrier ground nearly a third of its pilots for holding false or questionable licenses, officials said on Tuesday .

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

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

The PIA has flown only limited international flights for months due to the coronavirus.

The resumption of national operations last month was followed by a crash blamed on a pilot error 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, were not affected, said Khan.

The EU suspension is the latest fallout from the PIA after the aviation minister told parliament last week that a government review found that 262 of the 860 active pilots in Pakistan held false licenses or cheated in exams.

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

EASA said it was suspending the 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 has declared to parliament that he will reform the PIA and other government institutions.

“I want to say to my nation: we have no other option, reforms are inevitable,” he said on Tuesday.

Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said reforms to restructure the PIA will be completed by the end of the year.

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

Investigators blamed two pilots who spoke of the coronavirus when they first attempted to land on the Airbus A320 without landing.

(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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