Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar, in a press conference on Friday, said that most concerns of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) about the process of issuing licenses to commercial pilots have been addressed. Therefore, it is probable that the ban imposed on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for flight operations to and from European countries wil be revoked soon, he said.
In July, EASA had revoked PIA’s authorisation for flight operation in European Union (EU) member countries for six months. The restrictions was later extended when the EASA was not satisfied with the measures taken to improve the licensing process.
The minister clarified that all officers responsible for issuing dubious licenses had been dismissed, and a legal process against all such cases was being initiated with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
The minister spoke at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretariat in Taxila alongside Punjab Assemly members Ammar Sadeeq Khan and Malik Taimor Masood.
Mr Ammar Khan said that of a total of 860 licenses issued to pilots, only 262 had causeded concern. The licenses of 82 pilots had been revoked after further scrutiny.
Mr Khan presented an optimistic picture for the future of Pakistan’s aviation sector, claiming 2021 will be a good year as the PIA would induct eight new aircraft into its fleet. Additionally, more airlines would start operations in Pakistan.
He emphasised that improvement is in the horizon despite the tough conditions brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic. He cited the recent launch of Air Sial, which operated its first flight from Sialkot to Peshawar on Friday, and Serene Air’s recentauthorization for two new international routes—to and from China and the United Kingdom.
Mr Khan also said that PIA has set a target of reducing its employees from 14,500 to about 7,500-8000 for its fleet of 29 aircrafts. He compared to a Turkish airline, which has 31,000 employees for a fleet of 329 aircrafts.