Pakistan International banned from flying to Europe for six months

‘There are strong indications that a high number of Pakistani pilots’ licences are invalid,’ said the EU’s safety regulator

 

Pakistan’s national carrier has been banned from flying from Europe for the rest of 2020.

The European Union Air Safety Agency (Easa) has withdrawn “third country operator” authorisation from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for six months from 1 July.

The ban also applies to the UK.

The decision follows the crash of a PIA Airbus A320 on a scheduled flight from Lahore to Karachi on 22 May. Ninety-seven passengers and crew died after a botched “go-around” that damaged the plane on a first attempted at landing.

The preliminary report found the captain and first officer disregarded standard procedures and ignored alarms.

Airbus jet crashes near Pakistan airport

Easa says the crash revealed “successive breaches of multiple layers of safety defences in the safety management system”.

Earlier this month, PIA was summoned to Easa’s headquarters in Cologne to discuss safety shortcomings.

Then, on 24 June 2020, Pakistan’s aviation minister told parliament that 262 out of 860 pilot licences issued by the country’s civil aviation authorities were fraudulent. More than half were held by pilots employed at PIA, though the airline said that 36 of the pilots no longer worked for the airline.

The letter from Easa to PIA says: “There are strong indications that a high number of Pakistani pilots’ licences are invalid.”

It added: “PIA persists in failing to demonstrate compliance with the applicable standards.”

In response, the airline tweeted: “PIA is in touch with Easa to allay their concerns and hopes that the suspension will be revoked.”

The airline can appeal within the next two months.

Passengers have been offered postponements or refunds.

In normal times PIA links the capital, Islamabad, with Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester; Lahore with Heathrow and Manchester; and Karachi with Heathrow.

None of these flights is currently operating.

A spokesperson for the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said: “PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports are suspended with immediate effect.

“The CAA is required under law to withdraw PIA’s permit to operate to the UK pending Easa’s restoration of their approval that it meets international air safety standards.”

PIA has suffered two other fatal events in the past six years. In 2014, one passenger died when an Airbus A310 from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia was struck by bullets on the approach to Peshawar in Pakistan.

In December 2016, a domestic flight from Chitral to Islamabad crashed on a hillside with the loss of all 47 passengers and crew on board.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in