Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) received a hope-giving update from the European Union (EU) Commission. The national flag carrier of Pakistan was removed from the list of banned and restricted airlines in the EU territory, according to the latest reiteration of the EU ban list, updated on December 2, 2020.

The list no longer references Pakistan or any air carriers from the country. Nevertheless, the document does discuss the pilot licensing issue in Pakistan. While the EU authority acknowledges the “significant effort to enact the corrective actions needed” by the

Pakistani authorities, it also states:

“In view of the aforementioned evidence of the actions undertaken by PCAA and in accordance with the common criteria set out in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 2111/2005, the Commission, therefore, considers that at this stage with respect to air carriers from Pakistan there are no grounds for amending the list of air carriers which are subject to an operating ban within the Union.”

The EU Commission outlined that Pakistan needs to make the pilot licensing authority more transparent. Meanwhile, the safety procedures should also be reviewed if the airline seeks to get back to the European skies.

The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) suspended PIA from operating to and from the EU territory back on June 30, 2020. The measure came as a consequence of the investigation that found that 262 out of 860 active Pakistani pilots had not sat the pilot exams themselves. Allegedly,  40% of pilots, including inactive ones, held “fake” licenses. At the time, PIA suspended 150 of its 426 pilots.

Pakistan International Airlines was suspended from operating in the United States and European Union, as well as a number of other countries following the crash of PIA flight PK8303, which happened on May 22, 2020.