European Union allows PIA to continue flights operations till July 3

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been allowed to continue flight operations to and from the European Union (EU) till July 3, a spokesperson for the national flag carrier confirmed Wednesday.

The spokesperson said all PIA flights to and from Islamabad to London — PK785 and PK 786 — would operate as per schedule. An announcement with regard to other flights will be made soon, they added.

The PIA official said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, airline’s administration, and Pakistani diplomats were in contact with European authorities over the matter.

The spokesperson added that the foreign secretary had contacted European diplomats on an urgent basis after which the national flag carrier was allowed to land in Britain and Europe and fly over them as well.

PIA flights to Europe suspended for six months

A day prior, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had suspended PIA’s air operations permit for a period of six months, according to the national carrier’s spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan.

Khan had said Tuesday the suspension would take effect from July 1, at 12 noon UTC time. “Those who have a PIA booking can move the date forward or get a refund,” he had said.

The EASA had told PIA “it is still not sure” if all the remaining pilots are properly qualified, “and thus they have lost their confidence” in the airline, the spokesperson told AFP.

“PIA is in constant contact with the agency,” he had said, adding: “We are taking steps to address their concerns.

“It is hoped that the suspension will end soon due to the [remedial] steps taken by the government and the administration.”

UK suspends Pakistani flights from three airports

The UK Civil Aviation Agency (UK CAA) had also suspended Pakistan International Airlines flight operations from three airports — Birmingham, London Heathrow, and Manchester on Tuesday.

The move followed the decision by the EASA to suspend the PIA’s air operations permit for a period of six months. It comes after the grounding of 262 Pakistani pilots whose licences Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had termed “dubious”.

A spokesperson for the UK authority told The News: “Following the decision on June 30, 2020, by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to suspend permission for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate services to the European Union, PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports are suspended with immediate effect.

“The UK Civil Aviation Authority is required under law to withdraw PIA’s permit to operate to the UK pending EASA’s restoration of their approval that it meets international air safety standards.”

UK consumers intending to travel via PIA flights from either of these airports have been advised to follow instructions provided here.

About the ban by the European authority, the airline’s spokesperson had said the PIA was dedicated to implement new confidence building measures and would try to get this decision reversed as soon as possible.

As far as the same development in the UK was concerned, the spokesperson said he had not received official correspondence.

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