EU refuses to lift ban on Pakistani air carriers, PIA


KARACHI: The European Union (EU) refused to lift the ban on Pakistani International Airlines (PIA), elaborating on that no grounds found for amending the current list of air carriers banned from operating within the Union, including Pakistani airlines.

This decision comes after a comprehensive review meeting of the EU Air Safety Committee, which involved an on-site evaluation of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) and sample assessments of Pakistani air carriers Fly Jinnah and Airblue Ltd.

The on-site assessment, conducted between November 27 and 30, 2023, focused on the PCAA’s role and responsibility in safety oversight.

Although the PCAA demonstrated adherence to international safety standards and was staffed by technically skilled professionals.

However, the on-site assessment team identified several shortcomings, including insufficient scrutiny in closing findings based on proposed corrective actions rather than actual evidence, deviations from established procedures, and a severe understaffing in the Flight Standards Directorate.

Despite these issues, no major safety concerns were identified in the airworthiness or personnel licensing and training organizations, which were found to be appropriately staffed.

Fly Jinnah, one of the air carriers assessed, was noted for needing improvement in record keeping and management of findings.

The PCAA presented a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) on May 6, 2024, and elaborated on the steps taken to address the identified issues during a hearing before the EU Air Safety Committee on May 14, 2024.

Notably, the PCAA increased the number of qualified inspectors from one to nineteen in the Flight Standards Directorate, established a Quality Control section in each department, and created a central Quality Assurance department.

Fly Jinnah detailed its current operations and the measures taken to address quality management system flaws, including the use of software tools for various operational functions and outsourcing key activities to Air Arabia.

The EU Air Safety Committee in its report stated that continuous monitoring of the safety situation in Pakistan is essential.

“Regular technical meetings in Brussels and progress reports from the PCAA will be part of this ongoing oversight,” the EU report said.

The Committee also emphasized the need for the Pakistani government’s continued support and leadership stability within the PCAA.

For now, the EU has decided not to lift the ban on Pakistani air carriers, urging Member States to continue verifying compliance through ramp inspections.

The Commission warned that any revelation of imminent safety risks could prompt further action, underscoring the critical nature of maintaining international safety standards.__Pakistan Today