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Sunday April 14, 2024

60 foreign pilots inducted into Pak airlines ‘in violation’ of rules

The PCAA has issued endorsements to foreign pilot licenses to operate in Pakistani airlines

By Afzal Nadeem Dogar
February 29, 2024
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft can be seen landing. — AFP/File
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft can be seen landing. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Complaints of induction of 60 foreign pilots in violation of rules and tax evasion in salaries to the tune of $300,000 have come to the fore against some of the Pakistan airlines. The induction of foreign pilots is being construed as usurpation of the rights of 760 unemployed Pakistani pilots.

In this regard, General Secretary of the Aircraft Owners and Operators Association, Muhammad Nawaz Asim, has written to the chairman FBR and Director General FIA. According to this letter, the Aircraft Owners and Operators Association has expressed reservations over employing 60 foreign airline pilots by various airlines without valid Pakistan work visas. It has been stated that they are being offered salaries in dollars without deducting tax. The foreign pilots usually arrive in Pakistan on General Declaration under ICAO rules, which allow visa-free entry for foreign pilots but is not meant for the employees and it is a violation of international law, it said.

The PCAA has issued endorsements to foreign pilot licenses to operate in Pakistani airlines, but they are not exempted from work permits and applicable taxes in Pakistan. The association has emphasized the need to stop tax evasion worth Rs8.37 crore ($300,000).

In this regard, Skywings Aviation CEO Imran Aslam Khan said that these pilots are being paid salaries and benefits in violation of the law of the land. In this regard, the aspect of money laundering has also been brought forward for many years. According to Imran Aslam, the new airline currently has 24 foreign nationals as pilots, the second has 19, the largest private airline has 11 and the fourth has 6 foreigners serving as pilots. While 760 certified pilots are unemployed in Pakistan are not being activated like foreigners by giving them meagre training, while the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority validates the licenses of foreign pilots.

The spokesperson of Civil Aviation has said that the process of issuing or renewing pilots’ licenses as per CAA Act 2023 rules is going on. The prevailing laws are strictly followed in the process of license issuance or renewal. Local airlines hire foreign pilots and this is permissible under CAA rules. Foreign pilots’ licenses are renewed as per the rules at the request of airlines. After clearance from the Ministry of Interior, these foreign pilots get their work visas and are subsequently issued with a verification certificate.

According to the spokesperson, PCAA-ANO and rules and regulations are being followed in this regard.

Queries sent to four major private airlines on Tuesday have not been answered.