PIA prepares to restart Europe operations, says Minister

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Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Europe operations of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), suspended in 2020 over rumoured safety concerns, are expected to restart in February or March, the aviation minister said on Thursday.

“We are expecting PIA’s Europe operations will resume in February or March, the airline has made plans for the European operations,” Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan told reporters in Islamabad.

The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) grounded 262 airline pilots in June 2020 after they were suspected of cheating on mandatory licence tests — a scandal that tainted the nation’s aviation industry and the PIA, which European and United States aviation regulators barred from their territories.

More than one-and-a-half years later, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on Wednesday gave the PCAA the all-clear in terms of resolving significant safety concerns.

“It has withdrawn its objection on significant safety concerns,” PCAA spokesman Saifullah Khan said, referring to the ICAO.

The airline issued a statement citing Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Arshad Malik as welcoming the ICAO conclusion as a positive development for aviation in Pakistan, which would pave the way for the resumption of PIA flights to the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe.