PIA, pilots union call out “anomalies” in aviation division’s list of dubious flying licenses

A Pakistan International Airline (PIA) plane taxis on the runway on the way to Saudi Arabia during the PIA employees strike in Islamabad on February 8, 2016.
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Updated 27 June 2020

PIA, pilots union call out “anomalies” in aviation division’s list of dubious flying licenses

  • PIA CEO says names of pilots, airlines they were serving and other details incorrect in Aviation Division list
  • Pilots union says almost all suspended pilots have valid Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority documents

KARACHI: The chief of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and a national union of pilots on Saturday questioned an Aviation Division list which named over a hundred of the airlines’ pilots as having ‘dubious’ flying licenses, saying it contained “serious anomalies.”
A spokesman for PIA said on June 25 the airline would ground a third of its 434 pilots on suspicion that they held “dubious” licenses and flying certificates, prompting concern from international safety and transport bodies.
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 were completed.
The action was prompted by a preliminary report on the crash of a PIA aircraft in Karachi last month, which found pilots had failed to follow standard procedures.
In a letter dated June 27, and confirmed as authentic by a PIA spokesperson, PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik ensured that pilots named in the Aviation Division letter had been grounded.
“However, it is highlighted that there are some serious anomalies in the said list with respect to names of pilots, airline they are serving, reference number, and personal numbers of the pilots mentioned,” Malik said in the letter. 
A Pakistani pilots’ union has also questioned the Aviation Division’s list, calling it an attempt to divert attention from the deadly crash of a PIA airliner that killed 97 people on board last month, and which a preliminary investigation had blamed on human error.
In a presser on Saturday, the Pakistan Airline Pilots Association (PALPA) president said the list of suspect pilots was meant “to defame pilots and divert attention from the air crash.”




Captain Chaudhry Salman, center, President of Pakistan Airlines Pilots’ Association addresses a news conference with others in Karachi on June 27, 2020. (AP)

“Thirty-nine pilots in the list are not associated with PIA, the data of 36 others is completely wrong, whereas the cases of six pilots are pending in the court,” PALPA president Captain Chaudhry Salman told reporters at the Karachi Press Club. “The authenticity of this list is suspected.”
The PALPA president said pilots had received no warnings before the Aviation Division grounded them: “No show-cause was ever issued to the pilot. This clearly shows that PCAA and PIA have completely failed.”
Pilot licenses are assessed by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) every six months, Salman said, adding that to date all but 17 pilots on the list had valid licenses.
“We challenge this list with highly questionable and unrealistic content and urge upon the Chief Justice to form an inquiry commission and suspend the officials at Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PSAA) and PIA,” Salman said. 
The Aviation Division says it stands by its list.
Abdul Sattar Khokhar, joint secretary of the Aviation Division, said the released list was correct.
“All 141 pilots in the list have been found to have suspect licenses,” Khokhar told Arab News, adding that it was possible one or two of the pilots named in the list used to fly with PIA but had since moved on to other airlines.


Pakistanis in Dubai help release over 150 inmates from UAE prisons amid pandemic

Updated 2 min 47 sec ago

Pakistanis in Dubai help release over 150 inmates from UAE prisons amid pandemic

  • A majority of those who received Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) assistance were Pakistanis, but it also helped a number of people of other nationalities
  • Prime minister’s special assistant for overseas Pakistanis says PAD is the main organization helping repatriate nationals from UAE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) has helped amid the coronavirus pandemic release and repatriate more than 150 people from prisons in the United Arab Emirates.
In the past three months, PAD helped 154 inmates at prisons in Ajman and Dubai by buying their air tickets to return home and paid the fines required for their release orders to be issued. A majority of those who received PAD assistance were Pakistanis, but the association also helped a number of people of other nationalities.
“We arranged release and repatriation of 71 inmates from Ajman central prison this month. The initiative was not the first for PAD. We had also helped in release of 83 prisoners three months back from Dubai,” Rizwan Fancy, community welfare director at PAD, told Arab News over the phone from Dubai on Saturday.
The association has been working closely with UAE authorities.
“We were in process with Ajman government since the start of this month and completed the repartition this week after fulfilling all legal and medical requirements like COVID-19 testing,” Fancy said.
Those who received the assistance had been sentenced for petty crimes such as bounced cheques or overstaying. The have completed their sentences but were unable to pay release fines.
“We usually contact authorities and they share the list of such prisoners who can be released by paying small fines,” Fancy said. “We then arrange these things for the prisoners and subsequently their release takes place. We not only arranged for the release of Pakistani prisoners but managed to help in the release of 37 prisoners from other nationalities as well.”
The foreigners included citizens of Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, Iran, Nigeria, Somalia, Iraq and Cameroon.
Every year, the association repatriates fellow nationals as well as other people who reach out for help, Fancy said.
“We take immense pride in serving the forgotten members of the community. We went out of our way and ensured support for all those deserving help.”
One of the repatriated Pakistanis, a resident of Chakwal who requested not to be named, said he is grateful to PAD. “They have arranged my repatriation from UAE. They have provided me with tickets and also fulfilled other requirements. My family is also very happy,” he told Arab News.
The prime minister’s special assistant for overseas Pakistanis, Sayed Zulifqar Bukhari, said that in PAD has been the main organization helping repatriate Pakistanis from the UAE.
“None of it would have been possible if we didn’t have the support and contributions of organizations like PAD and other individuals,” Bukhari said.
“It’s due to them why Pakistan has such a strong diaspora in UAE.”