Flight ban caused Rs7.9b loss, Senate told

Aviation minister admits his statement regarding fake pilots’ licences triggered the closure

Shabbir Hussain June 04, 2021
photo file


The upper house of parliament was informed on Thursday that the statement made by the federal aviation minister regarding the fake pilots which resulted in the closure of flights had caused the country a loss of Rs7.9 billion in the last six months.

The Ministry of Aviation, in its written reply to the Senate, admitted that the closure of flights following the June 2020 statement regarding the fake pilots’ licences caused an estimated loss of Rs7.9 billion.
The ministry said that flights to Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom and France were suspended from June 30, 2020, following a statement regarding fake pilots.

As a result, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) incurred an estimated deficit of Rs7.9 billion. On the other hand, Federal Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that PIA incurred a huge loss not only due to fake licences but also due to loss code.

Regarding the fake licences of pilots, the minister said that that of 262 pilots were found suspicious. After due verification process, 50 pilots have been terminated, 32 suspended while cases of remaining pilots were pending in various courts.

Sarwar informed the Senate that as many as 700 employees of the PIA who were inducted on fake degrees and political ground during the tenures of the past governments have been terminated so far.

Also read CAA negligence costs PIA over Rs19 billion

In response to various supplementary questions during the Question Hour, the minister said that those employees were not only terminated but also criminal and judicial actions were taken against them.
He said the opposition should appreciate the present government's action against pilots possessing suspicious licences.

The minister said restrictions on the PIA flight operation to the European countries would be lifted after International Civil Aviation Organization's safety audit in October or November this year.

In December 2020, the Islamabad High Court observed that the verification process of pilots licences conducted by the Aviation Division is dubious, noting that it is now clear that the information that the licences of 262 pilots are fake is incorrect.

An inquiry into the May 22, 2020 PIA plane crash in Model Colony located near the Karachi airport in which 97 of the 99 passengers and crew members on board were killed, had revealed that most of the pilots of the PIA and other airlines possessed dubious licences.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition filed by a pilot, Syed Saqlain Akhter, against his dismissal.