In a setback, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) refuses to lift restrictions on flights from Pakistan. Earlier, there were hopes that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will soon resume flights to Europe.
According to details, the Executive Director of EASA wrote to the CEO of PIA Arshad Malik. In the letter, dated January 20, EASA stated that it will conduct a separate audit of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA).
Important to note, earlier, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) removed PCAA from the list of the Safety Significant Concerns (SSC).
Regarding this, an ICAO audit team visited Pakistan to undertake a safety audit of the aviation authority. It presented its report to its validation committee which cleared the safety audit. CAA received a ranking of 72. 77 percent. PCAA’s removal from SSC was a positive development. There were hopes that it would pave the way for EASA to remove the restrictions.
However, EASA claims in its letter that while it appreciates the safety audit on Pakistan, it has no impact on EASA’s restrictions. EASA also said that it will continue its consultations.
“Will continue to engage with PCAA and monitor the further measures adopted and actions taken to address the situation in Pakistan,” EASA wrote.
Additionally, EASA said it will conduct its own audit in accordance with Article 235(d) of the TCO Regulation (EU) No 452/2014.
“EASA shall conduct an audit of the operator prior to lifting the suspension. Since deficiencies in the State oversight were a contributor to the suspension decision, such audit will have to include an assessment to verify if these deficiencies have been properly addressed and corrected,” EASA said.
EASA ban on PIA
European Union Aviation Safety Agency imposed a ban on PIA in July 2020 due to licensing and flight safety concerns.
EASA suspended PIA flights to operate in Europe after PIA’s PK8303 crash in Karachi two years back. It imposed the suspension first for six months and then indefinitely.
EASA extended the ban twice: first in December 2020 for three months and then in April 2021 for an indefinite period.
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Since then, PIA has been actively taking measures to improve its safety standards. According to the latest EASA letter, it will conduct its audit in February. However, on-site activities depend on the Covid situation.