The United States has banned Pakistan International Airlines’ chartered flights, less than a month after one-third of the airline’s pilots were grounded for faking their credentials, Reuters reported on Friday.
The US Department of Transportation revoked the special authorisation given to the Pakistani airline on July 1, but the order was made available to the news agency on Friday.
The US said it revoked Pakistan International Airlines’ permission to fly “due to recent events identified by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority that are of serious concern to aviation safety, specifically matters pertaining to the proper certification of certain Pakistani pilots”, Dawn reported, citing an email from a US-based law firm.
“It is a setback for us,” Pakistan International Airlines spokesperson Abdullah H Khan told Reuters. He added that the airline was planning to restart regular direct flights to the US from Pakistan.
Last month, Pakistan Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had informed the Parliament that a huge number of commercial pilots in the country had either faked their qualifications or cheated in examinations. On May 22, 97 people had died in a Pakistan International Airlines plane crash in Karachi.
The plane crash was later found to be caused by the pilot’s error. “The pilot and co-pilot were not focused and throughout they were having a conversation about corona[virus],” Pakistan’s civil aviation minister was quoted as saying by The Guardian last month. “The [virus] was on their minds. Their families were affected and they were having a discussion about it.”
The investigation into the plane crash had further revealed that 260 of 860 pilots in Pakistan had cheated in their exams but were still granted flying permits by the Civil Aviation Authority.
On June 30, the European Union had also announced that Pakistan International Airlines would not be allowed to fly in its airspace for at least six months.