Pakistan aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan has landed his nation in a lot of trouble after he claimed that 30 per cent of civilian pilots did not have a valid licence.
His statement, which was made a few days ago, resulted in the European Union’s aviation safety agency banning all Pakistan International Airlines flights for the next six months citing safety concerns.
Khan’s statements come after a PIA flight crashed in Karachi at the end of May.
However, if one looks at a deep dive into the incident, Pakistan pilots are trained and capable of flying a commercial flight, according to several people from Pakistan. One Twitter user Omar Ali even said that many of the pilots did not get a licence because they were caught cheating in the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority Exam.
150 pilots from PIA lost their jobs last week after they were accused of cheating in their exams.
However, in a column written in Pakistan’s Nation, columnist Nusrat Javeed pointed out how dissenting voices in the Imran Khan-led PTI have been making statements to embarrass Pakistan on an international playing field. “The hyped story disregarded the fact that even Sarwar Khan had accused only FOUR PIA pilots for holding suspicious-looking credentials. But TV journalists are not in the habit of combing details. They milk the dominant themes and Sarwar Khan had, for sure, preferred to primarily hawk the same story that CNN continued drumming throughout Thursday,” he claimed in the column.
Whether it’s four or 150, the Pakistan government has been called out over claims that their pilots cheated in exams. This isn’t good for the airline, as its debt is approaching the 500 billion Pakistan rupee mark, according to The Diplomat, with the airline reportedly losing 6.3 billion Pakistan rupees every month. With the flights getting grounded and suspension of PIA flights to Europe, this loss could increase manifold.
Earlier, Pakistan International Airlines on Tuesday announced to discontinue its operation to Europe after the EU's aviation safety agency banned its flights for six months over safety concerns.
The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) said that the suspension of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights would be effective from July 1. However, the PIA can appeal against it.
In a statement, the PIA said that all passengers booked on its flights to European sectors will have the option to either extend their bookings for a later date or get full refunds.
It said that the PIA administration was in contact with the EASA to allay their concerns and to take necessary corrective measures along with filing the appeal against the decision.
"PIA sincerely hopes that with reparative and swift actions taken by the Government of Pakistan and PIA Management, earliest possible lifting of this suspension can be expected," it said.
The EU ban came after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan in a major embarrassment to his nation told the media last week that nearly a third of the PIA pilots had fake licenses.
He also said at least three crashes in the recent history, including the latest on May 22, were caused due to negligence of pilots.
The world reacted in horror while opposition in Pakistan demanded that the minister should be sacked for washing the proverbial dirty linen in the public.
The PIA grounded more than 140 pilots and wrote to foreign missions and international aviation watchdogs that it was addressing the problem but apparently everybody was not convinced