KARACHI: The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has refused to lift the ban imposed on the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to travel to European countries and the UK on the basis of the audit conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
EASA had suspended the authorization for Pakistani airlines to operate in Europe first for six months and then indefinitely in the wake of PIA’s PK8303 crashing in Karachi and a statement by Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar that around 40 per cent of Pakistani pilots had fake or dubious licenses.
Since then PIA is in trouble after the announcement by Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan of the grounding of 262 airline pilots suspected of dodging their exams.
On January 5, the ICAO had issued a statement confirming that Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) and Continuous Monitoring Approach (CMA) audit conducted by its team from November 29 to December 10 had found that Pakistan had addressed the Significant Safety Concern (SSC).
In his two-page response sent on January 20, EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky wrote that while the development was an important step towards the potential lifting of the suspension of PIA’s authorization, it was important to address the overall oversight capacity of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCCA).
“As indicated in our letter dated 31 March 2021, the emerging situation on the above-mentioned SSC indicated serious degradation of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority certification and oversight capabilities. Such information shall be taken [into account] by EASA when lifting the suspension,” the letter read.
It added that the EU Commission would continue to engage with the PCAA and monitor further measures adopted and actions taken to address the situation in Pakistan, including the outcome of a Union on-site assessment visit to the country.
EASA would conduct its own audit of the PIA prior to lifting the restrictions in accordance with Article 235(d) of the TCO Regulation (EU) No 452/2014.
“EASA shall conduct an audit of the operator prior to lifting the suspension. Since deficiencies in the State oversight were a contributor to the suspension decision, such audit will have to include an assessment to verify if these deficiencies have been properly addressed and corrected,” the letter added.
The safety agency also hinted that it may hire third country services to conduct an audit of the CAA/PIA.