PIA’s B777-240(ER), AP-BGJ Photographer: Javier Gonzalez- Iberian Spotters

EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) has imposed a 6-month ban on all Pakistani airlines from operating flights in its member countries following the fake pilot license scandal. The Pakistani International Airlines (PIA) was hoping to resume its flights to Oslo, Copenhagen, Paris, Barcelona, and Milan.

The United Kingdom (no longer member of the EU) Civil Aviation Authority has also banned Pakistani Airlines. PIA flights to Birmingham, London Heathrow, and Manchester airports will be affected by the suspension from CAA, UK.

The decision came after the aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan of Pakistan disclosed the fake license scandal stating hundreds of commercial pilots had cheated their exam. The preliminary accident investigation report of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK 8303 found lapses in the licenses of pilots working for Pakistani Airlines.

The EU ban on Pakistani Airlines is officially effective from 1st July 2020 for a period of six months. PIA said that they would have the right to appeal against the temporary decision made by the EU on the fake pilot license issues.

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EASA in its official letter sent to Pakistan showed concern over the authenticity and validity of pilot licenses and urged Pakistani authorities to strictly investigate the case. The agency also said that the Pakistani aviation regulatory body failed to certify and validate the pilot’s license in accordance with the international standards.

PIA is however positive that the decision may be overturned soon after the appeal against the ban with necessary documentations. The national flag carrier of Pakistan has shown deep concern over the issue and is in touch with EASA officials for making an effective countermeasure.

EASA has allowed PIA to operate flights to and from Europe till 3rd July 2020 and then have to discontinue all their flights to the European States.

This is not the first ban imposed by EASA on Pakistani Airlines as they were banned previously over aircraft maintenance issues. The recent Airbus A320 crash in Karachi killing 98 people led to the discovery of unauthentic pilot licenses and triggered EASA concern.

Almost 150 pilots of PIA have already been suspended after finding flaws in their license authenticity by the aviation authority of Pakistan. Mr. Khan insisted that more than 30% of commercial pilots in Pakistan hold fake licenses and not qualified to fly.

The suspension of pilots will be active until the necessary investigation completes with an effective conclusion. Besides, the Pakistani airline will strictly analyze the license and flying experiences of their pilots.

The Pakistani Aviation Unions including the Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA) have shown dissatisfaction over the fake license issue. They are not in favor of so many pilots holding unauthentic or fake flying licenses.

Besides, the president of PALPA said that the list of grounded pilots contained names of highly qualified, educated pilots who had passed all their exams in the right manner. He added the association wants fair investigation and decision from the respective authorities.

Airblue, the second biggest airline after PIA, confirmed that the 7 pilots included in the suspension list are not working for the airline. Shaheen Airlines has already grounded its fleet since 2018 due to financial issues so, the majority of suspended pilots are from PIA.