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Amidst the controversy surrounding fake licences of the Pakistani pilots, several countries have imposed strict restrictions on the operations of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). Pro-active measures were taken by the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and the European Union in view of the safety of passengers travelling on flights that are operated by Pakistani pilots.
On Thursday, the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) had reportedly suspended Pakistani pilots who were working in the country. As per the regulator, the temporary decision was taken to ensure the ‘safety’ and ‘security’ of the civil aviation of Malaysia. Meanwhile, CAAM informed that it was authenticating the licences of Pakistani pilots with the help of Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA).
“Licence holders that are verified as valid by PCAA will be reinstated immediately. “The records of the Pakistani licence holders will be reviewed by CAAM and PCAA,” the Malaysian regulator informed in a statement. CAAM justified its move by stating that similar action was initiated by several other countries.
UAE to verify Pakistani pilots
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) had also sought to verify the licenses of the Pakistani pilots employed with its airlines after claims of ‘dubious qualifications’ of 30% Pakistani pilots had surfaced. In a letter dated June 29, Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, the Director-General of the Civil Aviation Authority of the UAE, had directed for the verification of credentials of flight operations officers, aircraft maintenance engineers, and pilots from Pakistan.
“We would like to request your good offices to verify the licensing credentials of the attached pilots’ list who are currently holding UAE’s pilots’ licenses based on licenses and qualifications issued by Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority,” Suwaidi wrote. Reportedly, out of 860 pilots in Pakistan, about 107 work for international airlines. When Reuters contacted the Pakistani aviation ministry, they refused to comment on the letter by the UAE Aviation Authority.
UK, European Union suspends PIA flights
Earlier, the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority had withdrawn PIA’s permit to continue operations in three major flying destinations. “PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow, and Manchester airports are suspended with immediate effect,”, a UK Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson was quoted as saying.
On Tuesday, the Pakistan International Airlines spokesperson informed that the European Union safety agency had suspended the airlines from operating in Europe for the next six months effective from July 1, 2020. “EASA has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorisation to operate to the EU member states for a period of 6 months effective July 1, 2020, with the right to appeal against this decision,” a PIA statement said, adding that PIA would discontinue all its flights to Europe temporarily. The decision was taken in light of the fake pilot license scandal in Pakistan.
PIA pilots have fake licences
Last month, Pakistan’s Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan made a shocking revelation that more than 30 percent of civilian pilots in Pakistan carried fake licences and were not qualified for flying. While addressing Pakistan’s National assembly, the aviation minister said that some 262 pilots in the country paid someone to sit on their behalf in the qualifying exam to clear the examination. These findings were revealed after a probe into the PIA plane crash in Karachi last month. Following the publication of the report into the crash, Pakistan International Airlines grounded 150 pilots suspected of having fake licenses.