Following the shocking revelation by Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan that 30% of pilots have fake licences, the national carrier of Pakistan PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) faced a crackdown in the UK, Malaysia, EU, and the United Arab Emirates. In the latest development, the United States on Thursday had reportedly imposed a ban of six months on the operations of the airlines in the country.
In April this year, Pakistan’s national carrier had received permission to run 12 direct flights to different cities in the United States. While 7 were operational, the permission for the remaining five has now been revoked. This was the first time when PIA was allowed to run direct plights to the US.
Reportedly, the US Department of Transportation notified about their decision to the PIA via an email and added that it was made in the backdrop of ‘serious concerns to aviation safety.’ The same was confirmed by the PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan. “It is a setback for us. However we are keeping very close coordination with the US Department of Transportation and we sincerely hope that with the reformative process already underway, they will review their decision to revoke the permissions,” Khan was quoted as saying.
Pakistan begins verifying its pilots
As per the report, 262 Pakistani pilots whose credentials were labelled as ‘dubious’ had been grounded. Moreover, an inquiry has been initiated into the issuance of fake licences to pilots between 2012 and 2018. In a cabinet meeting, it was stated that 28 such PIA pilots had been terminated while an additional 37 pilots were suspended on suspicion of dubious credentials. Reportedly, around 450 pilots had received clearance from the Pakistani regulator till now. Earlier, in a joint conference, Barrister Shahzad Akbar, Ali Haider Zaidi, and Senator Shibli Faraz had assured that the government would ensure merit and transparency in all its national institutions. As per Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (Palpa), there have been discrepancies between the government’s claims and the licences that have been labelled as dubious. As such, they have now demanded a judicial investigation.
Crackdown on PIA by other countries
Amidst the controversy surrounding fake licences of the Pakistani pilots, several countries have imposed strict restrictions on the operations of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). The United Arab Emirates (UAE) had sought to verify the licenses of the Pakistani pilots employed with its airlines after claims of ‘dubious qualifications’ of 30% Pakistani pilots had surfaced. Earlier, the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority had withdrawn PIA’s permit to continue operations in three major flying destinations. A Pakistan International Airlines spokesperson informed that the European Union safety agency had suspended the airlines from operating in Europe for the next six months effective from July 1, 2020. On July 2, the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) had reportedly suspended Pakistani pilots who were working in the country.
PIA pilots have fake licences
Last month, Pakistan’s Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan made a shocking revelation that more than 30 percent of civilian pilots in Pakistan carried fake licences and were not qualified for flying. While addressing Pakistan’s National assembly, the aviation minister said that some 262 pilots in the country paid someone to sit on their behalf in the qualifying exam to clear the examination. These findings were revealed after a probe into the PIA plane crash in Karachi in May this year. Following the publication of the report into the crash, Pakistan International Airlines grounded 150 pilots suspected of having fake licenses.