UK joins Europe in suspending PIA from operating
Hours after the European Union Aviation Safety Agency banned PIA flights in Europe due to the fake pilot license scandal, the British Civil Aviation Authority has also suspended all PIA flights.
According to CAA UK spokesperson, PIA flights from Birmingham, London, and Manchester are being suspended.
"Following the decision on 30 June 2020, by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to suspend permission for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate services to the European Union, PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports are suspended with immediate effect. The UK Civil Aviation Authority 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.”
Earlier EASA had suspended Pakistan International Airlines licence to operate in the Europe for six months. The suspension would be enforced from tonight on July 1.
The move came after the revelation that Pakistan pilots hold fake licences and the national air carrier has to ground 141 pilots over suspicious licences. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency told PIA "it is still not sure" if all the remaining pilots are properly qualified, and "they have lost their confidence" in the airline.
In a statement, the EASA said it had suspended PIA and a smaller private Pakistan airline "in view of the recent investigation reported on in the Pakistani Parliament which revealed that a large share of pilot licenses issued in Pakistan are invalid".
PIA had recently resumed bookings for five European capitals cities, including Paris, Milan and Barcelona.
A PIA spokesman has said that they were in continuous contact with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and hoped that due to the intervention of the government and PIA administration the issue would be resolved soon.
The PIA said the passengers who have booked their tickets through PIA for European countries could either reschedule their visits or refund their tickets.
The EASA said it suspended PIA "due to concerns about the capability of competent authorities to ensure that Pakistani air operators are in compliance with applicable international standards at all times".
It would be a huge blow to already struggling state-run airline which has been facing a huge amount of losses since long. As aviation industry around the world has already witnessing a significant decline due to the coronavirus pandemic, the PIA crisis could be further worsened and may lead to the privatization of the airline.
The government has already announced to sell the hotels and other properties of the airline to overcome the economic crisis.
PM Imran Khan in his Tuesday speech in the national assembly has also described the airline as a white elephant.
Prime Minister Khan told 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.
Aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said reforms aimed at restructuring PIA would be completed by the end of the year.
The suspension would also add woes to the stranded Pakistanis in the European countries as well as foreign nationals living in Pakistan as there only option to travel to and from Pakistan has dealt a heavy blow.
The UAE has already suspended flight operations from Pakistan over coronavirus testing issue and all major UAE-based airlines have already suspended their flight operations from Pakistan.
A ban on PIA from Europe will cripple Pakistan’s economy as well as the PIA was the only airline that was linking Pakistan to the outside world during the pandemic.
On May 22, a PIA flight crashed into houses in Karachi, killing all 97 people aboard the plane and a child on the ground.
Investigators blamed two pilots, who were chatting about the coronavirus while they first attempted to land the Airbus A320 without putting its wheels down.