Several Pakistani airlines may face ban over pilot licensing issue

The country's aircraft and pilots, are likely to be barred from flying to 188 countries in the world.

Islamabad: Several airlines operating in Pakistan may face a ban in 188 countries for failing to meet the international standards of pilot licencing recommended by a UN specialised agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Express Tribune reported.

The country’s national flag carrier– Pakistan International Airlines — has already been barred from flying to the United Kingdom and European Union over the licencing scandal.

In a meeting, the ICAO approved a mechanism for addressing Significant Safety Concerns (SSCs) to its member states. Pakistan is a member state of the ICAO was identified among eight countries that had failed to address the SSCs.

The ICAO issued a serious warning to the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) – the regulator for all aspects of civil aviation in the country – over the safety concerns.

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In its letter dated November 3, the ICAO stated that PCAA had failed to meet the international standards regarding the personnel licensing and training in relation to the licensing process for the pilot.

Therefore, the country’s aircraft and pilots, are likely to be barred from flying to 188 countries in the world.

The European Union Air Safety Agency had suspended flight operations of PIA for a period of six months from July 1.

The suspension had come after it was revealed that the credentials of as many as 262 pilots were “dubious“. The pilots in the line of fire included 141 from PIA, nine from Air Blue and 10 from Serene Airline.

Post the revelation, Vietnam had grounded all of the 27 Pakistani pilots flying their aircraft due to concerns about their qualifications.

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All major airlines across the world have also begun to make Pakistani pilots redundant. Even the UK has decided to follow the EASA ban and barred any PIA flights to take off or land in the country.

Speaking about the warning issued by the ICAO, Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (Palpa) spokesperson said: “This will have serious consequences and could be a total disaster for Pakistan’s aviation industry.”

He said, “Palpa had been raising this issue since June 2020 but unfortunately it was neglected by the authorities concerned.

“Palpa had forwarded several options to revamp the system in accordance with the international practices and also given a presentation,” he added.

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