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Non-operational pilot dragged into PIA licence scandal


July 3, 2020

KARACHI: Aviation ministry seems to have made some ‘serious’ blunders in compiling a list of pilots from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) with suspected licences as it also includes name of a flight instructor who’s not operating as the airline pilot, it was learnt on Thursday.

Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan had alleged anomalies in issuance of pilot licences by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in a National Assembly speech on 24th June, following an inquiry report about an unfortunate deadly air crash of the state-owned PIA was made public.

The ministry issued the list of 141 suspected cases pertaining to PIA on 26th June and that also included name of Ali Anwer Bhatti, who is currently working as a flight instructor in Malaysia and at no capacity part of Pakistan International Airlines as an operating airline pilot.

“This is a serious and false allegation because of which my job is at stake in Malaysia… I have the CAA examination transcript of CPL and ATPL examination which is verified by the concerned authority,” Bhatti complained in a letter seen by The News.

“This incident has caused mental agony and public humiliation that I am facing right now. My names have been made public without any inquiry and it’s a basic principle to serve a notice to an individual before making decisive decisions.”

Coincidently, the overseas flight instructor had received his licence verification certificate from CAA on 25th June that authenticated and verified his commercial pilot licence.

The minister’s revelation moved European Union (EU) first to suspend flights of lose-making PIA to the bloc for six months and led to an inquiry in UAE.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Airlines’ Pilots Association (Palpa) said pilots flying PIA are duly qualified, properly licenced and adequately experienced.

“Palpa does not and will not protect any member/pilot whose qualifications and licencing is to the contrary,” Palpa said in a statement.

Though the Chief Justice of Pakistan has ordered an inquiry into the matter, pilots’ body said it would seek approval of the court to put across facts.

The association demanded ‘immediate’ resignation of PIA’s CEO and withdrawal of all officials who are on deputation.

Palpa said the incumbent chief executive officer of PIA and his selected personnel caused irreparable damage to the airline.

The association called for an appointment of “a well-experienced CEO who can run this airline professionally”.

“Matters have remained ever so challenging since the induction of the incumbent setup, which has failed to run and operate PIA in a manner that warrants merit and good governance,” said Palpa.

“The malicious efforts of some at the helm of affairs with a mindset to cut the pilots down to size have resulted in PIA being reduced to an airline on paper.”

The association said statements that are divorced from reality, based on malice, factually incorrect and a sheer source of embarrassment has done irreparable damage to this national flag carrier.

“What the present management with its deputation brigade has undertaken has resulted in PIA being declared unfit and unwelcome to majority of its routes.”