The European Union Air Safety Agency on Tuesday suspended Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate in Europe for six months. The decision comes shortly after the grounding of 262 pilots whose licenses were termed "dubious" by Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan. The PAK Civil Aviation Minister said last week that 262 out of 860 active pilots had fake licenses and are not qualified to fly.

"EASA has temporarily suspended PIA's authorization to operate to the EU member states for a period of 6 months effective July 1, 2020, with the right to appeal against this decision," a PIA statement said. During this period, PIA would discontinue all of its flights to Europe.

PIA suspended from flying to Europe
PIA suspended from flying to EuropeTwitter

Passengers who have booked their flights on PIA to European destinations can either extend their bookings to a later date or get a full refund. The national flagship carrier is also trying to work with EASA to alleviate their concerns and take necessary measures to appeal the decision. PIA said it "sincerely hopes that with reparative and swift actions taken by the Government of Pakistan and PIA management, earliest possible lifting of this suspension can be expected," the press release said.

PAK's fake pilot license scandal

Pakistan airlines
PIA suspended from flying to EuropeCreative commons

The investigation into the fake pilot license scandal started as a part of the preliminary report into the PIA plane crash in Karachi in May. Aviation Minister Khan did not reveal if the pilots flying PK 8303 carried fake licenses, but the report said that they were distracted and ignored the instructions from the air traffic controllers.

Talking about the fake pilot license scandal, Khan said that 262 pilots in Pakistan did not appear for the exam, instead paid someone else to take it on their behalf. The list of all fake pilots was circulated across all major airlines along with a request to prevent them from flying.

In addition, Vietnam's civil aviation authority has grounded all Pakistani pilots flying for Vietnamese airlines. There are currently 27 Pakistani pilots registered to fly for Vietnamese airlines, 12 of whom are active, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) said on Monday.