Pakistan’s national airline moves to assuage concern on ‘dubious’ pilot licenses

Pakistan International Airlines flies a number of international routes, including to the United States, Britain and Europe. (AFP)
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Updated 27 June 2020

Pakistan’s national airline moves to assuage concern on ‘dubious’ pilot licenses

  • Global safety and transport bodies expressed concern about the alleged ‘dubious’ licenses
  • PIA flies a number of international routes, including to the US, Britain and Europe

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s national airline has written to foreign missions and global regulatory and safety bodies, assuring them it has grounded all 141 pilots suspected of obtaining licenses through unfair means, the carrier’s spokesman said on Saturday.
The move looks to assuage safety concerns after Pakistan’s Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said on Friday the government had asked various commercial airlines, flying clubs and charter companies to ground a total of 262 pilots until investigations into their qualifications are completed.
The action was prompted by a preliminary report on the crash of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft in Karachi last month, which found pilots had failed to follow standard procedures.
Global safety and transport bodies expressed concern about the alleged “dubious” licenses and said they were looking into the matter. PIA flies a number of international routes, including to the United States, Britain and Europe.
“It is also ensured that all pilots flying PIA flights are having genuine licenses endorsed by the government of Pakistan,” said a copy of the letter sent to the US Embassy in Islamabad seen by Reuters.
The letter, signed by PIA Chief Executive Arshad Malik, also promised the airline would remain compliant with all international aviation safety and regulatory standards.
PIA’s spokesman said the letter had been sent to all heads of foreign missions in Pakistan as well as international aviation regulators and safety monitoring agencies.
Aviation Minister Khan had said the move to ground the pilots would help allay global concerns and show wrongdoing had been corrected. He added that five officials of the aviation authority were also suspended for abetting the suspected pilots.
The Pakistani pilots’ union did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
In a joint statement, The International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations and the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations called for the crash probe to be conducted on international standards, urging against “premature conclusions” based on incomplete or speculative information.


France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

Updated 19 September 2020

France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

  • Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a ‘double standard’ by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members

JEDDAH: France on Friday backed Cyprus’ calls for the EU to consider imposing tougher sanctions on Turkey if the Turkish government won’t suspend its search for energy reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters where Cyprus and Greece claim exclusive economic rights.

French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said sanctions should be among the options the 27-member bloc considers employing if Turkey continues to “endanger the security and sovereignty of a member state.”

“But we consider that the union should also be ready to use all the instruments at its disposal, among them one of sanctions, if the situation didn’t evolve positively,” Beaune said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in Nicosia.

A European Parliament resolution has called for sanctions against Turkey unless it showed “sincere cooperation and concrete progress” in defusing tensions with Greece and Cyprus.

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Turkey and now analyst at Carnegie Europe, said the resolution reflected the views of a democratically elected parliament from across the bloc. “This is not ‘country X against country Y,’ it is the aggregated view of the European Parliament,” he told Arab News.

EU leaders are set to hold a summit in a few days to discuss how to respond to Turkey prospecting in areas of the sea that Greece and Cyprus insist are only theirs to explore.

Turkey triggered a naval stand-off with NATO ally Greece after dispatching a warship-escorted research vessel in a part of the eastern Mediterranean that Greece says is over its continental shelf. Greece deployed its own warship and naval patrols in response.

Greek and Turkish military officers are also holding talks at NATO headquarters to work out ways of ensuring that any standoff at sea doesn’t descend into open conflict.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Turkey’s withdrawal of its survey ship and warship escorts was a positive step, but that Greece needs to make sure Ankara is sincere.

He said a list of sanctions will be put before EU leaders at next week’s summit and whether they’ll be implemented will depend on Turkey’s actions. “I’m hoping that it won’t become necessary to reach that point,” Dendias said.

Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a “double standard” by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud and police brutality while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members.

Meanwhile, the EU is set to announce sanctions on Monday against three companies from Turkey, Jordan and Kazakhstan which are accused of violating a UN arms embargo on Libya, diplomats told AFP.