National carrier permitted to continue operating flights to Europe until July 3
The European Union has allowed Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to continue operating flights to and from Europe until July 3, a spokesman for the state flag carrier said on Wednesday.
According to the spokesman, all PIA flights to and from Islamabad to London until July 3 would operate as scheduled. He said any changes to flights to other European locations would be notified shortly.
The spokesman said the PIA administration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistani diplomats were trying to resolve the situation, adding that their efforts had allowed the brief reprieve for the beleaguered airline.
On Tuesday, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency suspended PIA’s air operations in its member states for six months, with the right to appeal. In a letter sent to the flag carrier, EASA claimed it did not feel Islamabad was “capable to certify and oversee its operators and aircraft in accordance with applicable international standards” following Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan’s claims in Parliament that 262 Pakistani pilots had “dubious” licenses.
The U.K. followed with a similar suspension within hours.
Overall, 262 Pakistani pilots have been grounded due to the aviation minister’s claims. Of these, 109 are commercial and 153 airline transport pilots. They would remain grounded until their licenses have been investigated, says PIA. It said of the grounded pilots, 141 were from PIA, nine from Air Blue, 10 from Serene Airline, and 17 from the defunct Shaheen Airlines.
In addition to the ban from EASA and the U.K., PIA pilots employed in Vietnam have been grounded, Qatar Airways and Oman Airways have compiled lists of Pakistani staff, and Kuwait Air has also announced it would take action against Pakistani staff. The U.A.E. has also urged Pakistan to verify that the credentials of staff employed at its airports are not fraudulent.