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PIA Cleared for EU Cargo Flights

by AFP
Farooq Naeem—AFP

Farooq Naeem—AFP

State-carrier had been suspended in September over security fears.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has secured approval for cargo services to the European Union after being suspended over security fears, officials said Wednesday, a rare boost for the beleaguered flag-carrier.

The EU tightened security controls on air freight in the wake of a plot to smuggle a bomb hidden in printer toner cartridges on a plane from Yemen in 2010. The new regulations came into force in July this year and in September the EU suspended PIA’s right to fly cargo into the bloc over non-compliance.

PIA got clearance from the EU after installing dual view x-ray machines and explosive trace detectors to thoroughly scan goods and parcels booked on its flights. “It is a very big achievement for us now that EU experts have audited our security installations and validated our safety and security standards,” said Captain Salman Azhar, PIA’s director for safety and quality insurance.

PIA acquired the validation of safety and security standards for Lahore airport in September and now Karachi and Islamabad airports have also been granted the EU clearance.

Once a jewel among Asian airlines, state-owned PIA has suffered terrible problems in recent years, with financial losses running to hundreds of millions of dollars and constant flight cancellations. Last year one of its pilots was jailed in the U.K. for showing up drunk to fly a plane with 156 people on board, and Pakistani airports suffered two major security incidents this year.

In June heavily armed militants stormed Karachi’s international airport in a commando-style raid that left 38 people dead, including the 10 attackers. Two weeks later, gunmen opened fire on a PIA flight from Saudi Arabia as it landed at Peshawar airport in the country’s restive northwest.

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