The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has revoked Pakistan International Airlines’ permission to fly to European Union.
Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777-300ER landing at London's Heathrow Airport. Photo by Karam Sodhi | AeroNewsX
The latest move is effective from 1 July and will last for a period of six months. The carrier has the right to appeal against the latest decision, which will no doubt deal a severe blow to Pakistan International Airlines’ deteriorating reputation.
The European Union, in this case, includes the United Kingdom. The country remains subject to EU law and regulations despite having withdrawn from the EU on 31 January, 2020. For reference, EU law applies to the U.K. until 31/01/2020.
"The United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union on 31/01/2020 at midnight (Brussels time) and is now a Third Country. Under the terms of its Withdrawal Agreement, EU Law will apply for the UK during a transition period until 31/12/2020," the EASA states.
The latest announcement comes following the fatal crash of flight PK8303 on 22 May, which took the lives of 97 people. A government-led investigation had also found that 262 pilots in Pakistan were inadequately trained. The national carrier has since grounded almost a third of its pilots. This has, however, been met with criticism, with some suggesting that the figure isn't accurate.
The President of the Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA), Chaudhry Salman, told Reuters: "It contains names of highly educated and qualified pilots who have passed all the tests. We want a fair and impartial resolution to this matter."
Some of Pakistan's airlines also came forward to attack the list. Air Blue, which according to the Aviation Minister, Ghulam Sarwar Khan had 9 unqualified pilots, said that only two of them were still working for the airline. Pakistan International Airlines says 36 of the 141 allegedly unqualified pilots had left the company.
Pakistan International Airlines is no stranger to bans from the European Union. In early-March, 2007, the European Union imposed a ban on 35 of Pakistan International Airlines' fleet of 42 aircraft. This meant that the airline could only use its 7 Boeing 777s, with its entire Boeing 747 and Airbus A310 fleet prohibited from entering. Pakistan International Airlines said it had strongly disagreed with the ruling.
Furthermore, Pakistan International Airlines' safety record hasn't, for at least the last two decades, been something worthy of a trophy. In fact, prior to the European Union's ban, Pakistan's government had to force the national airline to withdraw its ageing fleet of Fokker aircraft due to safety concerns. In July 2006, one of the aircraft crashed killing 45 people. Additionally, the EU ban in 2007 was due to safety concerns surrounding the carrier's 747 and A310 fleets.