30 June 2020 16:34

United Kingdom Pakistan International Airlines Coronavirus

Pakistan's PIA has been barred from operating in the European Union after the state-run carrier grounded nearly a third of its pilots for holding fake or dubious licences (AFP Photo/FAROOQ NAEEM) Regulators have barred Pakistan International Airlines from the European Union for six months after the state-run carrier grounded nearly a third of its pilots for holding fake or dubious licences, officials said Tuesday. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) told PIA "it is still not sure" if all the remaining pilots are properly qualified, and "they have lost their confidence" in the airline, PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan told AFP. In a statement, the EASA said it had suspended PIA and a smaller private Pakistan airline "in view of the recent investigation reported on in the Pakistani Parliament which revealed that a large share of pilot licenses issued in Pakistan are invalid". PIA has only flown limited international flights for months as a result of the coronavirus. A resumption of domestic operations last month was followed by a crash blamed on pilot error that killed 98 people.

PIA had recently resumed bookings for five European capitals cities, including Paris, Milan and Barcelona. Flights to Britain, which is no longer in the EU, had not been affected, Khan said. The EU suspension is the latest fallout for PIA after the aviation minister told parliament last week that a government review had found 262 of Pakistan's 860 active pilots hold fake licenses or cheated on exams. More than half of them were from PIA, and the airline said it would immediately ground 141 of its 434 pilots. The EASA said it suspended PIA "due to concerns about the capability of competent authorities to ensure that Pakistani air operators are in compliance with applicable international standards at all times".

Prime Minister Imran Khan told parliament he would reform PIA and other government institutions. "I want to tell my nation: We have no other option, reforms are inevitable," he said Tuesday. Aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said reforms aimed at restructuring PIA would be completed by the end of the year. On May 22, a PIA flight crashed into houses in Karachi, killing all 97 people aboard the plane and a child on the ground. Investigators blamed two pilots, who were chatting about the coronavirus while they first attempted to land the Airbus A320 without putting its wheels down. Pakistan International Airlines loses millions in special flights ticketing scam Share this article: Share Tweet Share Share Share Email Share After dubious licenses scandal involving pilots, another scam hit the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) with its officials making about 8 million PKR (about R821 129) in the sale of tickets for special flights to Europe. Sources told Dawn News on Monday that some officials at the Sialkot PIA office accommodated some 50 old ticket holders for their travel to Italy and Paris on special flights in violation of rules to mint money. As per policy, the PIA has not been accommodating passengers having tickets issued before the Covid-19 pandemic, (since mid-March) for any destination. For special flights, the PIA is issuing new tickets which are almost double the price of the fare charged for regular flights issued before the pandemic. "The officials in question accommodated old purchased tickets by charging extra money from their holders (passengers) for their travel to Italy and Paris," a source told Dawn news, adding the officials committed this fraud in collaboration with some travel agents. "Through this fraud, the officials also deprived the PIA of a huge sum of money," he said and added that the fraud had been detected and an inquiry launched against those involved. Those availing the special repatriation flights to Pakistan have earlier expressed their concern on inadequate arrangements to acquire tickets, costly fares and non-refundable tickets in case of any mishap. Earlier, the federal government had asked the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to book tickets, instead of PIA, for those repatriated from the US. Meanwhile, the family of one of the 97 victims of the PIA crash on May 22 has urged the Supreme Court to take action against the `mafia' that it claimed has ruined the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the national flag carrier, and demanded early release of the insurance amount as per the carriage act law. "There has been a series of fatal accidents in the past and nothing has changed as we have not learned a lesson from these accidents. We request the Supreme Court chief justice to take action against those who ruined the CAA and the airline industry in the country," Danish Awan, whose mother died in the crash, told Dawn news on Monday. He said financial compensation (insurance) should be provided immediately to the affected families as per the carriage act law. IANS