By National News Desk
Islamabad: European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has extended a ban on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) for three months, despite the Pakistani officials’ expectations that ban would be lifted.
The EASA on Saturday informed that the PIA that the ban would only be lifted after a safety audit of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Dawn reported. The EASA had in July suspended the authorisation for PIA to operate flights in the EU member states for six months due to safety concerns.
On Friday, Pakistan Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had told reporters in Taxila that most concerns of EASA regarding the process of issuing licenses to commercial pilots had been addressed and soon the ban imposed on PIA flights in European countries would be lifted.
However, a senior PIA official confirmed to Dawn that PIA had received a disappointing message in response to a request made by the airline. He said that the national carrier had asked the European agency to give its provisional permission to operate flights to and from European destinations since it had met several conditions.
“We have asked EASA that they can conduct a safety audit of PIA, free from CAA, and in the meantime grant us provisional permission,” he said, adding that in response the agency said it could not issue such a permit.
The EASA letter read: “Regarding the lack of confidence in certification and oversight activities performed by the Pakistani CAA, which was the second aspect that led to the suspension of Third Country Operator Authorisation, the investigation performed by the European Commission and by the ICAO have not yet been concluded.”
“Consequently, as all preconditions to lift the suspension are not met and, as an audit will be necessary, the agency decided not to revoke your Third Country Operator Authorisation but to extend the suspension period by additional three months,” it added.
According to the Dawn report, the EASA ban is causing a huge financial loss to PIA and it is also giving an opportunity to foreign airlines to expand their operations. Earlier this month, British airline Virgin Atlantic launched its direct flight operations for Islamabad and Lahore while British Airways had already expanded its operations from Islamabad to Lahore.