Pakistan's scandal-hit national carrier on Tuesday announced to discontinue its operation to Europe after the EU''s aviation safety agency banned its flights for six months over safety concerns. The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) said that the suspension of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights would be effective from July 1. However, the PIA can appeal against it.
In a statement, the PIA said that all passengers booked on its flights to European sectors will have the option to either extend their bookings for a later date or get full refunds. It said that the PIA administration was in contact with the EASA to allay their concerns and to take necessary corrective measures along with filing the appeal against the decision.
"PIA sincerely hopes that with reparative and swift actions taken by the Government of Pakistan and PIA Management, earliest possible lifting of this suspension can be expected," it said. The EU ban came after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan in a major embarrassment to his nation told the media last week that nearly a third of the PIA pilots had fake licenses.
He also said at least three crashes in the recent history, including the latest on May 22, were caused due to negligence of pilots. The world reacted in horror while opposition in Pakistan demanded that the minister should be sacked for washing the proverbial dirty linen in the public.
The PIA grounded more than 140 pilots and wrote to foreign missions and international aviation watchdogs that it was addressing the problem but apparently everybody was not convinced.