After EU, US bans flights of Pakistan International Airlines
In yet another blow to embattled carrier Pakistan International Airlines, the US government has revoked permission for the airline to operate services to the US, reports on Friday said.
Late last month, the European Union's Aviation Safety Agency and the UK had suspended PIA's authorisation to operate to the region for six months after Pakistan grounded nearly one-third of its pilots when it emerged they had falsified their qualifications. As many as 262 airline pilots have been grounded by Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority for having fake licences. According to reports, the 262 pilots "include 141 from PIA, nine from Air Blue, 10 from Serene Airlines and 17 from Shaheen Airlines".
Reuters reported the revocation of permission by the US Department of Transportation was due to concerns of the Federal Aviation Administration over certificates of the Pakistani pilots.
According to Pakistan's Geo TV, the US Department of Transportation order means that "all types of flights" operated by PIA would be banned.
PIA spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez told Dawn that the US move was a "setback" for the airline. "However we are keeping very close coordination with US Department of Transportation and we sincerely hope that with the reformative process already under way, they will review their decision to revoke the permissions," Hafeez told Dawn.
Malaysia had temporarily suspended pilots holding Pakistani aviation licences, while the UAE is verifying licences of Pakistani nationals employed at its airports.
Several other nations have also taken measures against pilots with Pakistani licences. Kuwait Airways has grounded seven Pakistani pilots and 56 technicians, while Qatar Airways, Oman Air and Vietnam Airlines have compiled lists of personnel trained in Pakistan for verification.
Pakistan's Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan had told the country's Parliament in June that 150 PIA pilots had "dubious" licences, triggering concern worldwide. "A cabinet meeting was informed earlier this week that 28 pilots of PIA had been dismissed from service and 37 were suspended for allegedly having suspicious credentials," Dawn reported on Friday.
Scrutiny of Pakistani pilot training had increased after a PIA flight crashed near Karachi Airport on May 22, killing 97 people.