US suspends PIA flights over safety concerns

Lahore: The US Department of Transportation on Thursday (local time) suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) special permit into its airspace, citing concerns over the flag carrier’s safety measures and pilots’ “suspicious licenses”.

No PIA flights to US

The authority, in a statement cited by Geo News, said: “The PIA will not be able to operate its flights to the United States.”

The US authority said a ban has been placed on “all types of flights” operated by PIA.

PIA’s spokesperson confirmed the ban and said the national carrier had received an email in this regard.

“We will address America’s concerns,” he said, adding that hopefully, the matter of pilots’ licences will be resolved through ongoing corrective measures within the airline.

EASA suspends carrier’s permit

The move comes a few days after the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspended the national carrier’s permit for six months, UK barred PIA flights from three of its airports and Vietnam grounded all Pakistani pilots working in the country.

Similarly, Malaysia’s aviation regulatory authority also announced the temporary suspension of pilots who hold Pakistani licenses and were employed by its domestic airlines.

The UAE, meanwhile, has sought verification of the CAA licences granted to Pakistani staff working at its airports.

The suspension of PIA flights is the latest fallout in line to batter Pakistan’s international image, apart from a range of other issues.

Fake licences

The state-run carrier has already grounded nearly a third of its pilots for holding fake or dubious licences.

After a government review last month had found 262 of the country’s 860 active pilots held fake licences or cheated on exams, more than half of them were from PIA, following which the airline said it would immediately ground 141 of its 434 pilots.

The airline has only flown limited international flights for months as a result of the coronavirus. A resumption of domestic operations last month was followed by a crash blamed on pilot error that killed 98 people.

This is a huge blow to Pakistan and its national carrier, which even otherwise did not have a great reputation. This has caused a huge sensation in the aviation industry globally and suggests that the country has treated passenger safety in a most casual fashion.

It also gives an idea of the gigantic scam taking place, which threatens the lives of thousands of flyers. Ethics and commitment are conspicuously missing.

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