–European Union Air Safety Agency suspends PIA operations in Europe for six months
–UK Civil Aviation Authority suspends PIA flight operations from Birmingham, Heathrow and Manchester airports
–PALPA criticises govt’s list of ‘dubious’ pilots, says it’s full of discrepancies
BRUSSELS: The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended the authorisation for the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate in Europe for six months, while the UK Civil Aviation Agency has suspended PIA flight operations from three airports — Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester.
The move follows the grounding of 262 pilots whose licences the Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan termed “dubious”.
“EASA has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorisation to operate to the EU member states for a period of 6 months effective July 1, 2020, with the right to appeal against this decision,” a PIA statement said.
It added that PIA would discontinue all its flights to Europe temporarily.
According to a UK Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson: “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.”
PALPA CRITICISES GOVT LIST:
Meanwhile, airline pilots and their union have raised questions about a government list of 262 pilots with “dubious” credentials, saying it is full of discrepancies.
Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar had earlier said the pilots included 141 from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), nine from Air Blue, 10 from Serene Airline, and 17 from Shaheen Airlines.
The PIA said the list showed discrepancies once the airlines received it. Thirty-six of the 141 had either retired or moved out, it said. Air Blue said seven of the pilots on the list no longer worked for the airline.
The pilots and their union have rejected the list and demanded a judicial investigation.
“We don’t have full details of the discrepancies with us,” said Abdul Sattar Khokhar, a spokesman of the Civil Aviation Authority. “The issue is being sorted out in consultation with airlines and civil aviation authorities.”
The Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA) has also raised doubts about the list.
“It contains names of highly educated and qualified pilots who have passed all the tests,” its president, Chaudhry Salman, told Reuters. “We want a fair and impartial resolution to this matter.”
The action on the “dubious” licences was prompted by the preliminary report on an airliner crash in Karachi that killed 97 people last month. It found the plane’s pilots failed to follow standard procedures and disregarded alarms.