Officials of Pakistan’s aviation regulatory body will engage in talks with European authorities to resume Pakistan International Airlines’ direct flights to the continent. The airline, along with other Pakistani carriers, has been banned from entering European airspace following a scandal in 2020 related to pilot license forgery.
Pakistani officials reach Brussels to hold talks
Officials of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are currently in Brussels to meet with representatives of the European Union Aviation Safety (EASA) and European Commission (EC) and explore the possibility of resuming Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights to Europe.
The meeting will be held today, and the CAA is represented by a five-member delegation which includes the Deputy Director of General Regulatory (DDG), Director of Air Worthiness (DAW), Director of Personnel and Licensing (DPEL), Director of Flight Standards (DFS), and Additional Director of Legal Department (ADLD).
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According to ARY News, before departing, the CAA officials had an online session with EASA officials for almost eight hours and briefed them about the progress made by PIA so far in preparation for flight resumption to Europe. Some of the things discussed involved issues related to licensing, registration, and oversight. Following this visit, an EC delegation is expected to visit Pakistan sometime early next year before taking a decision on the ban.
Pakistani commercial aviation was rocked by a major scandal in 2020 when it emerged that 262 of the country’s 860 pilots (30%) had license discrepancies. These ranged from suspicions all the way to licenses that were outright fakes.
It was learned that many prospective pilots paid others to sit exams for them, following which PIA grounded 150 pilots that it believed were involved. Despite firing certain offenders, the EASA issued a ban on the airline on June 30th, 2020.
Since then, Pakistani authorities have been trying to convince European authorities to lift the ban, initially hoping that it would be reversed earlier this year.
Apart from losses faced by PIA, the ban was also beginning to affect the future of its slots at London Heathrow Airport (LHR). PIA has 10 slot pairings at LHR for the 22/23 Winter season, and the airport’s chiefs had expressed their desire to cancel its slots in the past.
In order to save the precious rights, PIA decided to sub-lease seven slots at Heathrow to two different airlines – Turkish Airlines and Kuwait Airways. This will enable PIA to avoid losing its slots entirely due to underutilization regulations.
It’ll be interesting to see if today’s meeting in Brussels will have any consequence on the ban on PIA, which is now in its third year.
Do you think PIA will be allowed to fly into Europe anytime soon? Please leave a comment below.
Source: ARY News