ISLAMABAD (AP) — The European Union’s aviation safety agency has extended a ban imposed on Pakistan’s state-run airline this year barring it from flying to Europe after a plane crash that killed 97 people in the port city of Karachi, a spokesman said Friday.
At the time — and while the probe into the May 22 Airbus A320 crash was still underway — authorities acknowledged that nearly a third of Pakistani pilots, 260 out of 860, had cheated on their pilot’s exams.
Pakistan International Airlines subsequently grounded 150 of its pilots while a probe by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority into the other pilots is still ongoing.
In first imposing the ban, the EU agency said it was “concerned about the validity of the Pakistani pilot licenses.” It added that Pakistan was not capable of certifying and overseeing “its operators and aircraft in accordance with applicable international standards.”
Abdullah Hafeez, a spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines told The Associated Press on Friday that the EU’s Aviation Safety Agency informed them about its decision to extend the ban after analyzing a report about additional steps taken by PIA to enhance safety measures.
No timeframe was given for the duration of the ban’s extension. According to Hafeez, although the agency praised PIA for taking additional safety steps, it opted to have the ban remain in effect until Pakistan resolves an issue related to issuing pilot licenses. He did not elaborate.
The EU agency declined to comment when contacted by the AP.
According to the government probe, the crash of PIA flight 8303 was caused by a pilot’s error. It concluded the pilot ignored warnings from the air traffic control tower while coming in too low for landing after his plane developed a malfunction.