EU upholds decision to ban on Pakistani air carrier PIA

Pakistan International Airlines - PIA

The European Union (EU) has upheld its decision to maintain the ban on Pakistani air carriers, including Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), as reported by ARY News.

Following a recent meeting, the EU found no compelling reasons to revise its existing list of prohibited air carriers operating within the Union, which includes Pakistani airlines.

This verdict follows an extensive assessment conducted by the EU Air Safety Committee, featuring an on-site evaluation of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) and sample assessments of Pakistani carriers Fly Jinnah and Airblue Ltd.
The on-site evaluation, conducted between November 27 and 30, 2023, primarily scrutinised the PCAA’s oversight role and responsibilities in ensuring safety.

While acknowledging the PCAA’s commitment to international safety standards and the presence of technically proficient personnel, the assessment team highlighted several deficiencies. These included inadequate scrutiny in closing findings based solely on proposed corrective actions rather than concrete evidence, deviations from established procedures, and significant understaffing within the Flight Standards Directorate, according to ARY News.

Despite these shortcomings, the assessment did not reveal any major safety concerns regarding airworthiness or personnel licencing and training organisations, which were deemed adequately staffed.

Fly Jinnah, one of the assessed carriers, was singled out for improvement in record-keeping and management of findings.

Responding to the assessment findings, the PCAA presented a comprehensive Corrective Action Plan (CAP) on May 6, 2024. During a subsequent hearing before the EU Air Safety Committee on May 14, 2024, the PCAA outlined the measures taken to address the identified issues.

Significantly, the PCAA bolstered its cadre of qualified inspectors from one to nineteen within the Flight Standards Directorate, established Quality Control sections in each department, and instituted a central Quality Assurance department.

Fly Jinnah outlined operational enhancements and efforts to rectify flaws in its quality management system, including the utilisation of software tools and outsourcing certain activities to Air Arabia.
The EU Air Safety Committee underscored the necessity of continuous monitoring of Pakistan’s safety situation. It outlined plans for regular technical meetings in Brussels and periodic progress reports from the PCAA to ensure ongoing oversight.

Moreover, the Committee stressed the importance of sustained support from the Pakistani government and stability in leadership within the PCAA.

At present, the EU maintains the ban on Pakistani air carriers, urging Member States to conduct ramp inspections to verify compliance. The Commission cautioned that any indication of imminent safety risks could prompt further action, emphasising the paramount importance of upholding international safety standards, ARY News reported.

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