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Pakistan should be appreciated and not punished

After the PIA plan crash in Karachi last month, the government had ordered investigations, and according to preliminary report, the pilot and air traffic control (ATC) were responsible for the plane crash that killed 98 people last month. PIA has grounded pilots even on the slightest suspicion of fake licence. This has by default raised the safety of planes of PIA and other airlines; hence this act of moral courage on the part of PTI government must be appreciated. Meanwhile, the European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended the authorisation for the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate in Europe for six months, while the UK Civil Aviation Agency has suspended PIA flight operations from three airports – Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester. The move follows the grounding of 262 pilots whose licences the Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan termed dubious.
“EASA has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorisation to operate to the EU member states for a period of 6 months effective July 1, 2020, with the right to appeal against this decision,” a PIA statement said. Auditing of pilot documentations must be seen in the context that Pakistan gives top priority to human safety; therefore EU ban needs to be reviewed immediately. After suspension for authorization, UK Civil Aviation Agency stated: “The UK Civil Aviation Authority is required under law to withdraw PIA’s permit to operate to the UK pending EASA’s restoration of their approval”. Addressing the National Assembly on Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan among other things said that if he would not stop the pilots with fake licences, the onus of blood due to plane crashes would lie on him. The IATA and EASA should appreciate the moral courage of PTI government and review its decision of banning PIA flights.
Meanwhile, airline pilots and their union have raised questions about a government list of 262 pilots with dubious credentials, saying it is full of discrepancies. Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar had earlier said the pilots included 141 from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), nine from Air Blue, 10 from Serene Airline, and 17 from Shaheen Airlines. The PALPA said the list showed discrepancies once the airlines received it. Thirty-six of the 141 had either retired or moved out, it said. Air Blue said seven of the pilots on the list no longer worked for the airline.
But it is immaterial whether some of the pilots on the list have retired or no longer working for the airline. Anyhow, PALPA President Chaudhry Salman told Reuters that “the list contains names of highly educated and qualified pilots who have passed all the tests.”
It has to be mentioned that following the 2018 crash, it was discovered that the test date on the pilot’s licence was a public holiday, suggesting that testing could not have taken place on that day. Recent investigations found that more than 260 of the country’s 860 active pilots had either fake licences or had cheated in their exams. A PIA spokesman confirmed to AFP news agency that the probe found about 150 of its 434 pilots had either bogus or suspicious licences. Adding that “we have decided to ground those 150 pilots with bogus licences with immediate effect,” he said.

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