Europe Suspends Pakistan International Airlines For Six Months Over Fake Pilot Licences

Europe Suspends Pakistan International Airlines For Six Months Over Fake Pilot LicencesPIA’s Airbus A320 before crashing in Karachi (video screengrab via Twitter)

The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA), the nodal agency agency of the European Union responsible for for civil aviation safety in the continent, has suspended the authorisation for the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate in Europe for six months, Dawn reported.

Pakistan’s civil aviation ministry grounded over 250 pilots after terming their flying licences as “dubious”.

Last Wednesday, Pakistan Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said 262 pilots in the country "did not take the exam themselves" and had paid someone else to sit it on their behalf.

Pakistan has 860 active pilots serving its domestic airlines -- including PIA -- as well as a number of foreign carriers

AFP quoted PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan as saying that EASAhas informed PIA that “it is still not sure" if all the remaining pilots are properly qualified, and "they have lost their confidence" in the airline.

“EASA has temporarily suspended PIA's authorisation to operate to the EU member states for a period of 6 months effective July 1, 2020, with the right to appeal against this decision,” a PIA statement said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan assured 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.

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

According to preliminary investigations, the pilots were chatting about coronavirus and repeatedly ignored warnings from air traffic controllers before the plane went down in a residential area near the airport.