Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan’s Aviation Minister announced that the country’s flag carrier airline is planning to relaunch flights to Europe in February or March of this year.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) European operations had been canceled in 2020. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), suspended all flights operated by Pakistani carriers, following the crash of a PIA Airbus A320 in the southern city of Karachi that killed 97 passengers and triggered an investigation into fraudulent licensing practices in Pakistani civil aviation industry.
Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said 50 Pakistani pilots’ licenses had been revoked following the investigation, with five high Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority officials fired and charged with fraud.
At least eight pilots at Pakistan International Airlines were dismissed in connection with the investigation, he said.
Pakistan has seen five major commercial or charter airliner crashes since 2010, killing at least 445 people.
The same period has seen numerous non-fatal aircraft accidents, including mid-flight engine shutdowns, landing gear failures, runway overruns and at least one on-the-ground collision, official reports show.
According to the minister, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) had cleared Pakistani aviation in a safety audit conducted late last year.
Khan said Pakistan was overhauling its pilot certification process, signing an agreement with British civil aviation authorities for pilots to be certified and tested in conjunction with that agency.
Pakistan International Airlines applied for a resumption of Europe air service this year.
“We are hoping that in February or March PIA flight operations in Europe will begin again,” Minister Khan said.