EU bans entry of Pakistan Airlines for six months over dubious license

The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate in the bloc for six months after the fake license scandal came to light.
“EASA has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorization 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.
The move was taken after Pakistan’s Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan in June grounded 262 pilots whose licenses were found to be “dubious”.
The PIA in its statement informed that all passengers booked on its flights to European destinations will have the option to either extend their bookings to a later date or get a full refund.
PIA said it would temporarily discontinue all its flights to Europe but later said it received a two-day relief with landing permission in Europe and Britain granted from July 1 to July 3.
Confirming the move, the EASA, in a statement referred to a recent investigation by Pakistan which it said showed a “large share” of pilot licenses to be invalid.
“PIA is in contact with EASA to allay their concerns and to take necessary corrective measures along with filing the appeal against the decision,” the press release said.
The national flag carrier “sincerely hopes that with reparative and swift actions taken by the Government of Pakistan and PIA management, earliest possible lifting of this suspension can be expected”, it added.
Meanwhile, Pakistani airline pilots and their union have raised questions about the government list of pilots with alleged dubious credentials, saying it is full of discrepancies.
Aviation Minister Khan’s announcement to ground 262 airline pilots suspected of dodging their exams has caused global concern. The minister said the pilots included 141 from PIA, nine from Air Blue, 10 from Serene Air, and 17 from Shaheen Airlines.
The PIA said the list showed discrepancies once the airlines received it. Thirty-six of the 141 had either retired or moved out, it said. Air Blue said seven of the pilots on the list no longer worked for the airline.
“We don’t have full details of the discrepancies with us,” said Abdul Sattar Khokhar, a spokesman at the Aviation Division. “The issue is being sorted out in consultation with airlines and civil aviation authorities.”
The Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (Palpa) has also raised doubts about the list.
“It contains names of highly educated and qualified pilots who have passed all the tests,” its president, Chaudhry Salman said. “We want a fair and impartial resolution to this matter.”