Not responsible for PIA flight suspension fiasco: aviation minister

Ghulam Sarwar Khan says govt will not privatise national airline


Our Correspondent July 25, 2020
Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan says the country’s licensing authority is under observation and action would be taken against those involved in fake documentation. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan has rejected the allegation that his statement about fake licenses of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) pilots triggered a suspension of the airline’s operations in Europe, claiming that the airline was under observation for a long time.

“It was not only my statement or PIA plane crash in Karachi [on May 22], which led to the suspension but the PIA has already been under observation by Easa [European Union Air Safety Agency] for safety hazards since 2007,” Khan told the upper house of parliament on Friday.

The minister was responding to a calling attention notice raised by PML-N Senator Javed Abbassi, PPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani and NP Senator Mir Kabeer Shahi regarding suspension of the PIA flight operation in the European Union (EU).

Easa on June 30 suspended authorization for Pakistan’s national airline to operate in the EU for six months days after the minister announced grounding of 262 Pakistani pilots over ‘dubious’ licenses.

After Easa, a number of countries started grounding Pakistani pilots and initiated a process for verification of their licenses. On July 10, the United States also imposed a ban on flights of the national flag carrier for six months citing dubious pilots’ licenses.

The minister said consultation is under way to file an appeal against Easa’s decision and the appeal will be filed before August 30. He said the EU had not imposed ban on the PIA flight operation for the first time. “We hope that the PIA flight operations to EU would resume by the end of this year,” he said.

Khan said ten countries had forwarded licenses of 174 Pakistani pilots for verification of which 166 licenses had been returned after verification. “The UAE [United Arab Emirates] alone sent licenses of 74 pilots for verification. Forty eight (48) of them have been returned after due verification so far.”

The minister said the country’s licensing authority is under observation and action would be taken against those involved in fake documentation. He said serving and retired employees involved in this practice would be made accountable and action would be taken against them.

The minister said the government undertook the process of verification of pilots’ licenses in the great interest of the organization. He said in 2019 the Supreme Court had also taken suo moto notice of hiring people in the PIA on basis of fake degrees.

“After through verification, 658 employees of the PIA were sacked due to their fake credentials. The employed filed petitions in high courts and later the SC against their termination but all petitions were dismissed by the apex court,” he said.

The minister said the government undertook a proper inquiry and suspended licenses of 262 pilots on suspicion. During the investigation, 28 licenses were canceled.

“The matter of dubious licenses would be brought to the logical end and criminal cases will be lodged against those who were found guilty,” he reiterated.

Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the government will not privatize the PIA; rather the national flag carrier will be restructured so that it may become a profitable organization. “All out efforts are being made to restore the PIA’s past glory,” he said

With input from APP

COMMENTS (4)

Sajjad Rashid | 2 years ago | Reply

Minister gave very irresponsible statement on the floor of National Assembly. In my openion, his political motive was to meline the previous government corruption and he purposely exaggerated the pilot fake license number without realizing that his stupidity will harm more to Pakistan then his rival opposition parties. Their could be some irregularities in documentation of very few pilots, but no fake pilot can fly until and unless he has sufficient skill to fly. It's the Airline rigorous training which make pilot to fly commercial aircraft therefore if even pilot has some irregularities in his documentation the airline training make him safe to fly. However general public thinks fake means pilot do not know how to fly and he is dangerous, in reality it is not so. The pilot who do not know how to fly will only take 15 second to crash. Therefore it's not correct to call fake pilot who has several thousand hours under his belt.

Inayat | 2 years ago | Reply

It is right decision not to privatize. But people must to punish due to wrong practice of employees

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