Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) laid off 60 pilots, of which 28 were sacked for holding fake licenses. The decision follows the recent investigation of the local regulator that found 40% of Pakistani pilots to hold dubious degrees.
In June 2020, in the aftermath of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) study that revealed that 262 out of 860 active Pakistani pilots had not sat the pilot exams themselves, PIA had immediately grounded 150 of its 426 pilots. On August 4, 2020, the flag carrier of Pakistan revealed that 60 pilots were sacked.
Additionally to the 28 that were dismissed for holding fake credentials, a number of them were fired for unjustified absence or general incompetence. “Recently, two employees involved in corruption within the company were also fired,” a PIA spokesperson told local news.
The results of the PCAA review were published after the crash of PIA Flight PK8303 that claimed the lives of 97 people on May 22, 2020. Early findings pointed at the negligence of the pilots and the lack of adequate reaction from the air traffic controllers.
The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) suspended the country’s flag carrier from operating to and from the European Union. The ban came into force on July 1, 2020, for a period of six months. In Vietnam, 27 Pakistani pilots (11 with Vietjet Air and 1 with Jetstar Pacific) were grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, pending further investigation.
On July 10, 2020, the United States banned Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights from its airspace, citing “serious concern to aviation safety”. On July 15, 2020, the FAA, under the International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, found that the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority was not complying with ICAO safety standards. Thus, the South Asian country was officially downgraded to a Category 2 rating, preventing all operators from flying to and from the United States.