European Union Aviation Safety Agency extends travel restrictions on PIA

RAWALPINDI: The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has extended travel restrictions imposed on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for an indefinite period and has directed the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) to get its safety audit done by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) scheduled in July.

The EASA had suspended PIA from operating flights to European Union member countries for six months in July 2020 due to safety concerns; the agency decided to extend this suspension until March 31, 2021 for an additional three-month period.

However, in its its fresh intimation to Pakistani authorities, the EASA has stated that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) made public a significant safety concern for Pakistan, which was an indication of a serious degradation of PCAA certification and oversight capabilities. Such information shall be taken into consideration by EASA when lifting the suspension, the agency stated.

Responding to the PCAA and PIA’s request to lift the ban on flights, the EASA maintained that their offer to use services of flight crew and engineers that do not hold Pakistani licences, does not fully mitigate all concerns regarding oversight capabilities of the authority.

“However, in view of the ICAO audit of Pakistan, scheduled in summer 2021, the ongoing technical consultations with the PCAA and due to exceptional circumstances arising from the current Covid-19 crisis and the consequent travel restrictions, EASA opted not to revoke TCO Authorisation but to further extend the suspension period until all necessary information is available to decide on the way forward,” a letter from the EASA stated.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2021

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