The US has banned all flights of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) with immediate effect. The US Transport Department said in a statement that special permission given to Pakistan International Airlines had been suspended due to safety concerns.
The move follows the grounding of 262 airline pilots in Pakistan over fake licences in a decision made by the Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan. PIA said that it would ground pilots with “dubious” licences.
Earlier, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency suspended PIA’s authorisation to fly to the bloc for six months in a blow to the carrier’s operations. Pakistan’s media reported that PIA had confirmed the US ban and said it would address the concerns through ongoing corrective measures within the airline.
This ban by the US and Europe and was taken after Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) acknowledged in a letter written to foreign missions and global regulatory and safety bodies, informing them that they have grounded all 141 pilots suspected of obtaining licenses through unfair means.
Pakistan’s aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had said in the Parliament during that time that a large number of professional pilots had fraudulent licenses. He also said that it has been found in the investigation that more than 260 out of 860 pilots either had fake licenses or rigged their examinations.
“It is also ensured that pilots flying PIA flights are having genuine licenses endorsed by the government of Pakistan and are in physical possession of the same during all domestic and international flights,” said a copy of the letter sent to the US Embassy in Islamabad.
The ban on Pakistan’s national carrier – PIA has brought global humiliation for Islamabad as pressing questions are being raised over the safety of passengers. On the other hand, the pilots whose names have been listed and have been grounded, have refused the claim stating that the government’s issues list is based on incorrect facts.
“The list of grounded pilots has stated that many pilots were found guilty of falsely clearing nine papers, while there are eight papers in total required to get a pilot license from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA),” said one of the pilots whose name is in the list. “There are many others, who have not even given eight papers till now and are co-pilots, they have put their names in there too,” he added.
As per Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) followed by the CAA, a pilot is required to pass all eight papers to become fully qualified, after completing at least 1,500 hours of commercial flying time.