Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan on Thursday said that he stood by his statement that irregularities were found in the licenses of 262 pilots while the eighth test of some pilots was given by other people in their place.
Speaking in Dunya News program “Dunya Kamran Khan Kay Sath”, he said that 28 pilots have been sacked after charge sheet, adding that various pilots have also admitted in the show cause notice.
The minister said that the investigations into the pilots were underway since last February and the investigation found the licenses of 262 pilots suspicious. “Prime Minister Imran Khan was also briefed on the inquiry report,” he said.
Ghulam Sarwar said that 174 Pakistani pilots are working in foreign airlines, adding that the foreign airlines have asked for verification of pilots license. “The licenses of 166 out of 174 pilots have been verified,” he said adding that the process checkup of pilots will continue and after the audit, we will offer the services of our pilots to the world.
He went on to say that PIA was banned in Europe from 2007 to 2009 and the government was in contact with the European Union foreign ministry on the issue of pilots. “Shouldn’t we admit our mistakes if something has gone wrong,” he asked.
The minister further said CAA is being divided into two parts, adding that the civil aviation’s regulatory and commercial matters are being separated.
CAA says all its pilot licenses are ‘genuine’, including licenses of 262 pilots?
The Civil Aviation Authority on Wednesday informed its Omani counterpart that all commercial pilot licences (CPL) and airline transport pilot licences (ATPL) it had issued were “genuine” and the matter of dubious credentials had been “incorrectly highlighted” by mainstream and social media.
CAA's confirmation that all pilot licenses issued by it are genuine is a charge sheet against the PTI govt. Through their ill-considered actions, they have damaged PIA & inflicted heavy loss of billions of rupees on the exchequer in addition to bringing a bad name to the country!
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) July 16, 2020
The regulatory body also said it had verified and cleared the licences of 96 pilots of the 104 names it had received from various foreign counterparts and international airlines.
The CAA was asked to verify their credentials in in the wake of the government’s revelation last month that nearly a third of the country’s pilots had suspicious licences.
“All CPL/ATPL pilot licences issued by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) are genuine and validly issued,” read a letter written by CAA Director General Hassan Nasir Jamy to Oman’s Public Authority for Civil Aviation Air Traffic Control Services Director Mubarak Saleh al-Gheilani.
“None of the pilot licences are fake, rather the matter has been misconstrued and incorrectly highlighted in the media/social media,” Jamy added.
PIA banned after found licenses of 262 pilots fake: a huge loss to be inflicted?
According to sources, the aviation regulator of Oman had warned that the PIA could be barred from using its airspace if the Pakistani authorities failed to satisfy it about its measures to ensure the safety of flights in the wake of the suspicious licences controversy.
Today, I raised the issue of Aviation Ministers fake statement on PIA pilots which has led to colossal damage to Pakistan's aviation. There must be accountability for the irreparable loss to the country #ResignNow #NAFiles pic.twitter.com/1LTFcnfJ6T
— Nafisa Shah (@ShahNafisa) July 16, 2020
The aviation authorities of Malaysia and Vietnam have already grounded holders of Pakistani pilot licences working in local airlines.
Ethiopian Airlines has also sought an explanation from Pakistan.
The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended PIA’s authorisation to operate in EU member states for six months expressing concerns over the minister’s statement.
Following the EASA’s move, the UK Civil Aviation Authority said it was withdrawing PIA’s permit to operate from three of its airports. “PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports are suspended with immediate effect,” a spokesperson for the authority told Reuters. The three were major flying destinations for the airline.
Later, the United States also imposed a ban on flights of the national flag carrier for six months citing dubious licences.
The PIA was operating 23 flights to UK every week – nine to London, 10 to Manchester and four to Birmingham.
The national carrier’s destinations in Europe included Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Oslo and Copenhagen.
As a result of the minister’s claim that licenses of 262 pilots were fake, the airline would incur a loss of Rs33 billion because of the ban. It is already facing loss of Rs12 billion because it will not be operating Hajj flights this year. The suspension of flights for Umrah passengers has also affected its revenue.