Washington/Islamabad: Following the European Union, the United States too has banned flights of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). Pakistan’s own Civil Aviation Minister had exposed in the Pakistani parliament that 40% of the PIA’s pilots have fake flying licenses. Pakistan faced embarrassment around the world after this revelation. Concerns regarding the safety of PIA flights are being raised around the world. Before this, eight countries, along with the European Union, had banned PIA flights. Now, the United States has delivered a blow to Pakistan, by banning PIA flights.
While giving information regarding the PIA flight crash in Karachi, in May, Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Minister castigated the entire Pakistani system. Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, made a startling revelation that 40% of the pilots employed by the PIA have fake flying licenses. Thereafter, countries from around the world are banning PIA flights, on security and safety grounds. The European Union issued instructions to that effect, to its 32 member countries. At the same time, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, Malaysia, Kuwait, Iran, Jordan and UAE banned PIA flights.
The European Union ban on PIA flights will cost the Pakistan airline nearly $33 billion. It is reported that therefore, Pakistan is making frantic efforts to get the ban, imposed by the European Union, vacated at the earliest. Pakistan has opened dialogues with the other countries, too, imposing the ban. But the list of countries banning the PIA is increasing by the day. The US Federal Aviation Administration has expressed concerns over the certification of the PIA pilots.
PIA already in losses is sinking further into it. Reports say that the other airlines started charging 300% of the fares prevalent prior to the ban, for flights between Pakistan and the United Kingdom. Against this background, Prime Minister Imran Khan and his other cabinet ministers are facing severe criticism. It is being blamed that this government has sunk the reputation of Pakistan, further, by exposing the information regarding fake flying licenses. Bilawal Bhutto, President of the Pakistan People’s party, had accused that the degree of the Minister, accusing the PIA pilots of fake licenses, was spurious. Bhutto also accused that this is a conspiracy of the government to sell off the property of the PIA and privatise the airline.