Flight operation to Europe likely to resume in Feb-March: Sarwar

ISLAMABAD (APP): Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan Thursday said, flight operation for Europe is likely to resume in February and March after clearance of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Addressing a press conference, the minister said, 10-member validation committee of ICAO visited Pakistan from November 29 to December 10 and thoroughly inspected entire system of Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Airline and air traffic control.
The ICAO team cleared a safety audit report, he said adding that the CAA addressed all reservations of the ICAO regarding safety measures.
The minister said they were planning to resume Pakistan International Airline (PIA) flight operations for Europe. Flights for three stations in the UK including London, Birmingham and Manchester were being planned in mid-February.
Similarly, they have planned PIA flights for Paris, Oslo and Denmark while five flights for Canada in a week, he added. He said, three flights have also been planned for Bishkek, Baku and Tashkent owing to enhance trade relations with these countries.
The minister said, two A-320 air crafts were inducted in PIA fleet during 2021 while four new A-320 air crafts would be induced in mid-2022.
The PIA also acquired ownership of 6 air crafts including B777 after expiry of their leases, he added.
He said, PIA airlifted around half a million Pakistani stranded in various countries during COVID-19 despite various restriction.
After takeover Kabul by Taliban, the PIA carried out evacuation operation from Afghanistan despite a risk, he added. He said thousands of foreigners were evacuated from Afghanistan during the said operation. The minister said during restriction, PIA successfully operated flight operations to Damascus, Najaf and Mashhad to promote religious tourism and facilitate ‘Zaireen’.
It was aim of the government to bring improvement and reforms in aviation, he added.
He said the Supreme Court of Pakistan has also directed the government to check the credential of employees. On the direction of SC, education traditional of all PIA employees were checked, he said.
He said some 837 employees including 8-10 pilots were terminated on fake documents and degrees. The inquiry committee headed by a 20 grade officer also declared 262 licenses suspicious, he added.
He said after forensic audit it was found, 50 licenses were canceled by the Cabinet in two phases while 34 were suspended as it was obtained through unfair means. The minister said action was taken against five officers of CAA and they were not only terminated but also arrested.

It is worth mentioning that the European Union Aviation Safety Agency had suspended the authorization of PIA to operate in EU member countries in July 2020 over licensing and flight safety concerns.