EU ban over PIA flights would be lifted soon, hopes aviation minister


TAXILA: Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar on Saturday hoped that the ban on the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate flights to and from the European countries would be lifted soon as the concerns raised by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) over the safety atandards have been addressed.

Addressing the media in Taxila, the federal minister said eight new planes are being added to the PIA fleet and the EU’s concerns raised regarding the process of issuing licences to commercial pilots have been addressed.

The suspension imposed by Easa took effect on July 1, 2020, after it came to light that countless pilots possessed “fake” licences.

The ban was a big blow to PIA, which was already under scrutiny across the world due to the recently uncovered pitfalls within Pakistan’s aviation industry.

In December, however, Easa had expressed its satisfaction over certain steps taken by the Civil Aviation Authority to improve the situation. The Easa had said a further audit by the agency’s officials was imperative to revoke the ban.

The startling revelations came as the aviation minister presented the interim report on the probe into the May 22 PIA plane crash.

Following the report, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) had expressed concern over the “serious lapse in-licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator”.

Criticising opposition leaders and its anti-government coalition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Sarwar said that PDM’s tactics will not hinder the process of accountability.

He said that PDM is increasing pressure to bargain and the Opposition wants an amendment to the NAB rules. “Most people of PPP will not resign. A group within PML-N will also not resign,” he claimed.

He went on to add that the Opposition just wants a show of hands to avoid horse-trading in the Senate elections.