LONDON – The scandal in Pakistan over dubious Pilot licenses in the wake of the PK8303 crash continues as up to 58 Pilots who were “wrongly suspended” have been cleared now of all charges.
The Pakistan Airline Pilots Association (PALPA) stated that Pakistan International Airlines (PK) has been under duress, with some Pilots in the airline already contesting cases in a court of law.
PALPA also stated that 141 Pilots faced cancelations of their licenses, 31 of which are not in PK and 26 being charged based on incorrect data being presented in court. The union was keen to hit the Pakistani Government hard, calling this “short-sightedness management and [an] ill approach” toward its pilots.
Clear Procedures in Pakistan
PALPA argues that there is a procedure for issuing a pilot’s license, consisting of the pilot obtaining it from the Civil Aviation Authority in Pakistan upon the completion of the required flying hours and passing various examinations and practical training.
The Pakistani Government as a result of accused “ill approaches” also resulted in 56 ground engineers who work for Kuwait Airways (KU) being laid off from their current positions.
The court cases will continue well into the next year, whilst the Pakistan Government try to bring its civil aviation crisis to a more neutral setting.
The Firestarter in the Crisis
The catalyst to the beginning of this crisis came in May this year when a Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A320 crashed near Karachi Airport.
As the investigations developed, news came out stating that 40% of Pilots in the country have fake Pilot licenses, which brought the integrity of the aviation ministry into disrepute. This resulted in swift action, as a day after that report came out about such licenses, PK suspended the fake Pilots from the company.
The Damage is Done
At this point, the damage had already been done and the backlash had begun. The United Arab Emirates, the US, and the UK all banned the airline from operating any of its aircraft into the respective countries.
Flights from the carrier were eventually allowed to partially resume in the UK, but with the help of wet-leasing firm HiFly (5K). This meant that PK had to withdraw its European staff as no official flights were operating at the time.
The Latest in Pakistan
Since then, PK has completed a safety audit carried out by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Days after, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) advised the country to suspend the issuance of Pilot licenses due to the integrity of procedures within the certification.
This, on top of suspensions and bans, has enabled other airlines such as British Airways (BA) and Virgin Atlantic (VS) to acquire a foothold of the Pakistani market, with services to Lahore (LHE) and Islamabad (ISB).
As mentioned in previous articles, the next steps are for the Pakistan Government to repair its integrity within the civil aviation ministry and ensure that the proper steps are taken before certifying Pilots whose licences are dubious in nature.
It will be interesting to see whether we see any change in the short-term, or whether the state will take the time, especially during a global pandemic, to review its practices.
For the likes of PK, the airline is losing out on a lot of the market because of this crisis, and the airline has to be careful and think smart if it is going to make any level of ground going ahead.
Featured Image: Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777-300ER. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons