That Pakistan is adept at providing safe havens to terror operatives, peddling lies, plotting false narratives to try and corner India on the international stage is known. What wasn’t known so far is how it had been playing with the lives of thousands of innocent flyers for years together.
Pakistan’s civil aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan told the Parliament that of Pakistan’s 860 pilots, as many as 262 pilots had obtained their degrees through dubious means. He said that these pilots had paid others to sit for examinations on their behalf.
“They were found not to have given their exams themselves. They give money and have a dummy candidate sit in their place,” Sarwar Khan said.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) wrote to foreign missions and regulatory bodies reiterating that 141 of its 434 pilots had been grounded already. Nine pilots from Air Blue, 10 from Serene Airline and 17 from Shaheen Airlines were also grounded following the expose.
EASA has suspended PIA’s permission to operate to EU member states for 6 months w.e.f July 1, 2020: 0000Hrs UTC. PIA is in touch with EASA to allay their concerns and hopes that the suspension will be revoked with our CBMs soon.
— PIA (@Official_PIA) June 30, 2020
But the very fact of putting lives of thousands of flyers at risk has had a crippling effect on the airline. While European Union has banned PIA for six months stating in no uncertain terms that the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) ‘is still not sure’ if all the remaining pilots are properly qualified and ‘they have lost their confidence’ in the airline, other nations including Vietnam and even Pakistan’s allies in the middle east have grounded Pakistani pilots working for their airlines and are taking a fresh look at their licenses.
Pakistani journalist Gul Bukhari also tweeted to outline how other countries were also losing their confidence in Pakistani pilots.
Kuwait Airways has grounded all 7 Pakistani pilots and suspended 56 engineers and ground handling staff. Similar reports from Qatar, Oman, Emirates and Vietnam.
— Gul Bukhari (@GulBukhari) June 27, 2020
While global safety bodies and transport authorities are visibly concerned over the fake licenses with which the Pakistani pilots have been flying, the Pakistan Air Line Pilots Association has refuted the government’s claim and called on the judiciary to intervene.
PIA on its part is firefighting to undo the damage and allay all concerns. PIA Chief Executive Arshad Malik in a statement has promised the airline would remain compliant with all international aviation safety and regulatory standards.