In email sent by a U.S.-based law firm, PIA has been informed that it is no longer allowed to utilize American airspace
The United States this week barred Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from operating any flights to or from America in the latest fallout of the “dubious” pilot licenses scandal.
In an email to PIA officials, Washington said the authorization to utilize American airspace had been revoked “due to recent events identified by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority that are of serious concern to aviation safety, specifically matters pertaining to the proper certification of certain Pakistani pilots.” It said this ban would apply on all types of flights, including cargo and “special” repatriation flights that the airline had been allowed to operate for travelers stranded due to the coronavirus pandemic.
PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan confirmed to local media that the airline’s permission had been withdrawn. He said that officials were in contact with the U.S. Department of Transportation and hoped to convince them to review the decision to revoke the permission.
PIA had been granted permission to operate direct flights to the U.S. in April to repatriate stranded travelers. However, following Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan’s claim in Parliament that a third of all licensed pilots in the country had “dubious” licenses or fake degrees, more and more countries have started to ban the carrier—and Pakistani pilots—until the situation can be resolved to their satisfaction.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspended the national carrier’s permit for six months, with a right to appeal, last week. The U.K. followed suit, barring PIA from three of its airports, while Vietnam has grounded all Pakistani pilots working in the country.
Malaysia’s aviation regulatory authority had also announced the temporary suspension of pilots employed by domestic airlines who hold Pakistani licenses, and the U.A.E. has sought verification of the CAA licenses granted to Pakistani staff working at its airports.
In its defense, Pakistan’s government claims that the bans are “temporary” and would be reversed once the state’s institutions were “purged of corruption.”