KARACHI: The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has indefinitely extended the suspension of Pakistan International Airlines flight operations in EU, “until all necessary information is available to decide on the way forward.”
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency had suspended the Third Country Operations Authorization (TCOA) to PIA in July 2020 initially for six months following the controversial and several time modified statement of the Minister of Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan regarding the verification of degrees of Pakistani pilots working in the national flag carrier and other airlines. The EASA decision to suspend PIA flight operations to EU had come in February 2021, after the International Civil Aviation Organisation made public a ‘Significant Safety Concern for Pakistan, indicating a serious degradation of Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority certification and oversight capabilities. Later, the EASA extended the suspension for another three months till March 31st, 2021. In its latest review, the EASA rejected the PCAA offer and found it not to be helpful in removing the (EASA) concerns about the PCAA oversight and mentioned that under the legal instruments, the Third Country Operations Authorization must be revoked.
The EASA had communicated to the CAA and PIA that “their offer to use only flight crew and engineers not holding Pakistani licenses does not fully mitigate all concerns regarding the oversight capabilities of the PCAA. At this moment, the EASA therefore considers that not all conditions required to lift the suspension are met.
EASA should now revoke the TCOA (Third Country Operations Authorization) in line with EASA, ART.235(c)(1) of Part-ART.” But the EU agency let off the drastic action and chose to extend the suspension indefinitely till all necessary information is available.
In a breather to the national flag carrier, the EASA informed the PCAA, due to the on-going technical consultations between European Commission and PCAA, the exceptional circumstances arising from the current Covid- 19 crisis and the impending ICAO audit of CAA in coming months, “the EASA has opted not to revoke your TCO Authorisation but to further extend the suspension period until all necessary information is available to decide on the way forward.”