Pakistan International Airlines banned from EU

Ban follows recent investigation into Pakistani flag airline, which found many pilots had fake licences

FILE PHOTO: A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane prepares to land at Islamabad airport in Islamabad February 24, 2007. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/File Photo

Pakistan International Airlines has been banned from flying to the European Union for six months amid a scandal over nearly a third of its pilots holding fake or dubious licences.

The EU's aviation safety agency remains unconvinced that the remaining pilots are properly qualified, and it has lost its confidencein the airline, PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan told Agence France-Presse.

The agency said it had suspended PIA "in view of the recent investigation reported on in the Pakistani Parliament, which revealed that a large share of pilot licences issued in Pakistan are invalid".

An inquiry into the May 22 PIA crash that killed 97 people near Karachi led to the revelation that 260 of 860 pilots in Pakistan had cheated on their pilot exams but were still given licences by the Pakistani aviation authority.

The government has since fired four officials of the regulatory agency, and criminal charges are being considered.

While PIA, like other airlines, has been heavily affected by the coronavirus outbreak, it hoped to resume its flights to European cities including Oslo, Copenhagen, Paris, Barcelona and Milan within the next two months.