Pakistan’s National Airline has been banned from flying within the European Union for at least six months after the country’s aviation minister admitted a third of Pakistani pilots cheated on their pilot’s exams.
The European Unions Aviation Safety Agency announced the decision on Wednesday, after it emerged pilots for Pakistan International Airlines had altered their test results.
Pakistan International Airlines had not been flying to Europe because of the pandemic, but the airline had hoped to resume flights to Oslo, Copenhagen, Paris, Barcelona, and Milan.
The ban will be imposed for at least six months, dashing plans for the airline to start flights within the next two months.
In a letter, the European Aviation Safety Agency said it was “concerned about the validity of the Pakistani pilot licenses and that Pakistan, as the State of operator, is currently not capable to certify and oversee its operators and aircraft in accordance with applicable international standards.”
The decision follows an inquiry into the 22 May Airbus A320 crash that killed 97 people at the southern port city of Karachi, Pakistan.
It found 260 of 860 pilots in Pakistan had cheated during their exams, but were still given licenses by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The Pakistani government has since fired five officials of the regulatory agency and criminal charges are being considered.
Pakistan International Airlines spokesman Abdullah Hafeez told Associated Press PIA had alerted the Pakistani regulatory body about issues over pilots licenses.
Back in 2019 the airline grounded 17 pilots over license concerns after one of its aircraft skidded off a runway in northern Pakistan.
Hafeez said: “The saddest part for PIA is that we had alerted the regulatory agency and the government.
“We have really hit rock bottom I am so sad to say.”