In another blow to Pakistan International Airlines, the United States has banned the beleaguered carrier from its airspace. Will the USA ban hasten lasting change at PIA?
PIA Banned From USA
PIA announced in 2019 that it would resume service to the USA in 2020. The plan was to fly nonstop from Islamabad to New York starting in May 2020. Such a flight was subject to “TSA clearance” as there were questions to the integrity of the airport screening process in Islamabad. In fact, as late January 2020 the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned:
“The ongoing presence of extremist/militant elements operating in Pakistan poses a continued risk to US civil aviation from small-arms fire, complex attacks against airports, indirect weapons fire, and anti-aircraft fire, any of which could occur with little or no warning.”
The new Islamabad – New York service never began, but once the pandemic hit PIA received permission to operate 12 repatriation flights directly to/from the United Sates. Thus far, it has operated seven. Now the remaining five repatriation flights will not be permitted.
Citing safety concerns in a letter dated June 30, 2020, the FAA informed PIA that it would not be allowed to fly to the United States. That was the same day the EU banned PIA, but the U.S. letter was just made public yesterday.
Publications such as Bloomberg led with openings like:
Pakistan’s national airline has been barred from flying to the U.S. as a result of a scandal in which almost one-third of the nation’s pilots were found to have faked certifications.
As Live and Let’s Fly has reported, the truth may be a bit more complicated. Just as PIA itself has been accused of sloppiness and cutting corners, so too may the “fake pilot” list be riddled with errors and inaccuracies. In any case, the ban is effective for six month.
Pakistan’s government has vowed to get to the bottom of the issue, though many in Pakistan see it as part of the problem, not the solution.
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- Exclusive: A “Fake” Pilot From Pakistan International Airlines Speaks Out
- European Union Bans Pakistan International Airlines – Is Canada Next?
- Pakistani Pilot Probe Spreads To United Arab Emirates
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image: Aleksandr Markin / Wikimedia Commons