Pakistani airlines’ operations in Europe get one step closer to resumption


EASA’s decision to lift ban indicates potential renewal of third-country operators’ licenses for PIA

Crew members disembark from a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight at Kabul Airport, Afghanistan, September 13, 2021. — AFP
  • Authorities had banned flight operations due to fake license scandal.
  • The issue had resurfaced in investigation report into PK-8303 crash.
  • EASA, EC forward their decision to lift ban for further approval.

LAHORE: In a positive development for Pakistan’s aviation industry, the country’s airlines’ operations have come one step closer to restoration in Europe with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) decision to lift the ban, The News reported on Monday.

Both the European Commission and the EASA have forwarded the decision to the European Air Safety Committee for approval, sources told the publication.

The development comes a day after a high-level delegation of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) headed by the CAA DG left for Europe to brief the authorities on the measures related to the restoration of flights by Pakistani airlines in European countries.

Meanwhile, another delegation, led by the secretary of aviation division is scheduled to leave for Brussels today to attend the upcoming European Air Safety Committee meetings from May 14 to 16.

It is pertinent to know that European authorities imposed a ban on the operation of Pakistani airlines in July 2020 after it came to light that pilots possessed “fake” licences, as put by the then aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar.

The ban was a big blow to the airline, which was already under scrutiny across the world due to recently uncovered pitfalls within Pakistan’s aviation industry, such as pilots possessing “fake” licences as put by the aviation minister.

The startling revelations came as the aviation minister presented the interim report on the probe into the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) PK-8303 crash that resulted in the deaths of 85 passengers after the plane crashed in Karachi on May 22, 2020.

Following the report, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed concern over the “serious lapse in licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator”.

Subsequently, on June 24, the aviation minister announced that the qualifications of 262 pilots in Pakistan are “dubious” and thus they will be barred from flying.

The pilots that were in the line of fire included 141 from PIA, nine from Air Blue, and 10 from Serene Airline.

The rest of the 262 belonged to flying clubs or chartered plane services, the aviation minister had said. 

EASA’s decision to lift the ban indicates a potential renewal of third-country operators’ licenses for the PIA and Vision Airlines.

While the ban on all other Pakistani airlines has been lifted, discussions during the meeting will primarily focus on PIA and Vision Air.

An EC spokesperson has clarified that there is no ban on other Pakistani airlines in European countries.

It is to be noted that EASA licenses, issued by the European Union, carry weight not only within EU member states but also in numerous other countries.

However, a PIA spokesperson has expressed unawareness of these recent developments but conveyed gratitude for the possibility of a favourable decision.

He emphasised the need to await the outcome of the European Air Safety Committee meeting.


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