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EU refuses to lift ban on Pakistani flights over safety, license concerns

FILE PHOTO: A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane prepares to take off from the Benazir International airport in Islamabad, Pakistan, February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood//File Photo (REUTERS)Premium
FILE PHOTO: A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane prepares to take off from the Benazir International airport in Islamabad, Pakistan, February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood//File Photo (REUTERS)

  • The EU Air Safety Committee (ASC) met on November 17 and 18 in Brussels to update the list of airlines whose operations had been banned by the European Commission (EC), the report said

ISLAMABAD : The European Commission has decided to retain the ban on Pakistan's national carrier PIA's operations in its member countries, saying it is dissatisfied over the steps taken by the country's civil aviation authority to address licensing and safety concerns, a media report said on Friday.

The EC has also asked the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to remove safety deficiencies and improve the process of issuing licenses to commercial pilots, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had suspended the authorisation for the PIA to operate in European Union member countries for six months in July 2020, after showing concern over the issue of pilots’ licences citing the Pakistan aviation minister’s speech in Parliament that one third of Pakistani pilots had fake licences.

The minister's statement came days after a passenger plane of the PIA crashed near Karachi airport on May 22, killing 97 passengers.

The crash was a result of human error by the pilot and air traffic control, according to an initial report into the disaster.

The EU Air Safety Committee (ASC) met on November 17 and 18 in Brussels to update the list of airlines whose operations had been banned by the European Commission (EC), the report said.

A letter sent to aviation authorities said the situation of the air carriers certified in Pakistan was examined during the ASC meeting.

The EU said that the ASC deliberations confirmed a continued concern over the measures taken by the Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority in terms of a proper root cause analysis and suitable corrective measures to prevent re-occurrence of the same or similar safety deficiencies.

According to the EU, concern persists about the Civil Aviation Authority safety deficiencies, not only on the pilot licencing areas but on the whole licensing and authorization processes, application and oversight of safety management systems and the establishment of the occurrence reporting system, among others.

The EU said it had also recognised that the Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was making significant efforts to put in place and enforce some corrective measures to address the identified safety situation in Pakistan.

“In view of this, it has been decided not to make any changes to the list of air carriers subject to an operating ban with respect to air carriers certified in Pakistan," the EASA said.

It urged the CAA to maintain regular contact with the European Commission to keep it informed of the further actions to respond to and deal with the safety concerns.

The letter said the European Commission would remain committed to working closely with Pakistan's CAA to solve in a sustainable manner the identified safety issues with a view to achieving common objectives of a safe international aviation system, while at the same time ensuring that any current safety risks were adequately contained.

On the other hand, European Union Aviation Safety Agency, in its letter to PIA Corporation Limited, said the agency had reviewed the material provided by the PIA regarding safety management systems and found it satisfactory and sufficient as a first important step.

The EASA said it would conduct an audit of the third country operator when it would consider the lifting of a suspension of PIA operations when the conditions were met.

However, the conditions have not been met yet, the report said.

Commenting on the ban, PIA spokesman said the organisation has been working hard to comply with EASA observations as these were unprecedented times.

“Now we are eagerly awaiting regulatory compliance so that we could resume our flights to one of our most productive sectors," the official said. PTI SH RUP AKJ RUP RUP

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