The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has extended a ban on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for 90 days.
The EASA reportedly rejected PIA’s proposal for provisional permission to resume its Europe operations and announced that the ban would only be lifted after a safety audit by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). PIA flights to the EU were suspended due to safety concerns for a period of 6 months in July 2020.
“We have asked EASA that they can conduct a safety audit of PIA, free from CAA, and in the meantime grant us provisional permission,” a senior PIA official told the Dawn Newspaper, adding that the agency responded it could not issue such a permission.
“Consequently, as all preconditions to lift the suspension are not met and, as an audit will be necessary, the agency decided not to revoke your Third Country Operator Authorisation but to extend the suspension period by additional three months,” read EASA’s response letter to PIA.
Pakistan International Airlines was suspended from operating in the US, EU, and a number of other countries after the crash of PIA flight PK8303, when the airline’s crew was found guilty for the accident. Following the crash, the airline found itself in the epicenter of the fake license scandal in the country. It was revealed that as many as 262 Pakistani pilots out of 860 active pilots had questionable credentials to operate aircraft.
In December, 2020, Virgin Atlantic launched its direct flight operations for Islamabad and Lahore while British Airways had already expanded its operations from Islamabad to Lahore. PIA has opposed the CAA’s decision to allow Virgin Atlantic flights to/from Pakistan, according to the Tribune. PIA officials said that these flights would negatively affect the airline financially.