Pakistan has grounded all the pilots having dubious or “suspected” licenses, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said Wednesday.
“To ensure highest safety requirements and meet professional criteria, all identified suspects have been grounded,” the minister told reporters in Islamabad. This grounding has been in effect since June 25th 2020.
On June 30, the European Union Safety Agency had suspended the authorization for Pakistan International Airlines to operate in Europe for six months. Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan’s announcement last week of the grounding of 262 airline pilots suspected of dodging their exams had caused global concern.
The EASA said it was, “concerned about the validity of Pakistani pilot licenses” in a letter announcing the ban.
The PIA has now been given an extension in the United Kingdom and European countries for three days from July 1 to 3.
The information minister said that “the process of reforms has been initiated in the civil aviation authority and all Pakistani airlines” on the orders of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He said that the government’s forensic review has identified various instances where licensing requirements were not fulfilled.
“Due to certain instances of administrative lapses, five officials concerned of the civil aviation authority have been placed under suspension and an inquiry has been initiated against them,” Faraz said.
PM Khan’s cabinet, the minister said, has expressed confidence in the “overall professional capability and performance of fully licensed and well-experienced professional pilots of Pakistani airlines.”
The government has instructed its departments to work with international partners to facilitate travel and avoid any difficulty for passengers, Faraz said.
The minister said Pakistani pilots are “fully competent” and those flying now fulfill all the safety requirements.