ISLAMABAD: A day after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan expressed hopes that the ban imposed on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate flights in Europe would be lifted soon, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) informed the national flag carrier that the ban had been extended by three months and that it would not be reviewed until a safety audit of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
It is pertinent to mention here that the PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik had written a letter to EASA for giving provisional permission to the national flag carrier to resume operations in Europe.
However, the European authorities rejected the proposal, conveying that pre-conditions to lift the ban have not been met yet, while an audit will be necessary before any approval from the EASA.
The agency said that their experts reviewed all submitted material and additional supporting arguments related to the corrective actions implemented to improve the PIA’s Safety Management System (SMS).
The EASA letter says: “Regarding the lack of confidence in certification and oversight activities performed by the Pakistani CAA, which was the second aspect that led to the suspension of Third Country Operator Authorisation, the investigation performed by the European Commission and by the ICAO have not yet been concluded.
“Consequently, as all preconditions to lift the suspension are not met and, as an audit will be necessary, the agency decided not to revoke your Third Country Operator (TCO) authorisation but to extend the suspension period by additional three months….”
Earlier on Saturday, the aviation minister had hoped that the ban on the PIA flights in European countries would be lifted soon.
Talking to media persons in his hometown Taxila, the federal minister further said that the EASA’s concerns raised regarding the process of issuing licences to commercial pilots have also been addressed. He said that eight new planes are being inducted into the PIA fleet.
The suspension imposed by EASA took effect on July 1, after it came to light that countless pilots possessed “fake” licences. The ban was a big blow to the national carrier, which was already under scrutiny across the world due to the recently uncovered pitfalls within Pakistan’s aviation industry.