Pakistan plans to split Civil Aviation Authority into regulatory, operational units

This file photo taken on July 9, 2003, shows a view through an aircraft window of a Boeing 747 tail fin of an aircraft of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). (AFP)
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Updated 31 July 2020

Pakistan plans to split Civil Aviation Authority into regulatory, operational units

  • Federal cabinet and parliament will give a final go-ahead once the plan is ready, says aviation division official
  • The country may outsource airport operations in two different phases to improve the quality of service

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan plans to divide the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) into two separate regulatory and operational entities to improve the overall performance of its air travel industry, said a senior government functionary on Thursday. 

The proposal was floated in March 2019 but it came up for discussion once again after the country’s aviation minister, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, claimed last month that “almost 40 percent” of the country’s pilots had fake licenses. 

Soon after the controversy, aviation experts reiterated that the government should bifurcate the CAA operations to boost regulatory control over pilots and flight operations. 

“A special cabinet committee is deliberating on the bifurcation of Civil Aviation Authority,” Abdul Sattar Khokhar, senior joint-secretary at the Civil Aviation Division, told Arab News on Thursday. “Once it is done, this will go for a final approval to the federal cabinet and parliament.” 

“This will also help remove conflict of interest as currently the same organization is acting as a regulator and service provider,” he added while declining to give a timeframe for the finalization of the plan. 

“All of this is being processed and nothing is final at this stage,” he said. 

The government developed the National Aviation Policy in March 2019 to make CAA’s regulatory role completely independent of service provision within a span of two years. 

Under the plan, the CAA will be divided into the Pakistan Civil Aviation Regulatory Authority and the Pakistan Airports Authority. The scheme also seeks to outsource different airports of the country in two phases to improve their service quality. 

The Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association (PALPA) said the government did not consult the body over the bifurcation plan, adding that its members had serious reservations over the functioning of CAA’s licensing branch. 

“The government should address the anomalies in the licensing process as the recent controversy over the so-called fake licenses has damaged Pakistan’s reputation the world over,” the association’s president, Chaudhry Salman, told Arab News. 

He said the government had grounded 101 pilots over “dubious” professional credentials, and they had all filed cases against the decision. 

“The government should impose fines or allow retesting instead of revoking pilots’ licenses,” Salman said. 

Aviation industry experts say the CAA bifurcation will not automatically streamline the industrial operations unless the government purged the whole institution of “black sheep and fraudsters.” 

“It is a good initiative, but the regulatory and the airport authorities must further be given to two different divisions to get the desired results,” Afsar Malik, aviation business consultant, told Arab News, adding that one of the units could report to the aviation division and the other could work under the cabinet division. 

Malik said the outsourcing of airports could help the government improve its service and revenue, but for that “a complete business plan should be formulated beforehand.”


Pakistan says looking forward to future ‘high-level’ engagements with UAE

Updated 10 sec ago

Pakistan says looking forward to future ‘high-level’ engagements with UAE

  • Foreign minister Qureshi meets UAE ambassador, appreciates support for Pakistan’s Expo 2020 pavilion covering 3,500 square meters
  • UAE ambassador reaffirms desire for ties with Pakistan based on “mutual respect, understanding and common interests”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received the ambassador of the UAE to Pakistan, Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al Zaabi, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday and conveyed his hope for enhanced “high-level” engagements between the two nations in the future.
The UAE is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and has supported Pakistan in the areas of education, health, energy and infrastructure development over several decades. It is home to more than 1.6 million Pakistanis — the second largest Pakistani expatriate community abroad.
Recalling his successful visit to the UAE in December 2020, Qureshi underscored the importance of frequent high-level visits from both sides, “which serve to continually provide impetus toward deepening and diversifying bilateral relations.”
“He looked forward to enhanced high-level engagements with the UAE, as soon as the global health situation improved,” the foreign office said in a statement, quoting the foreign minister referring to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Qureshi paid tribute to late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who he said had “contributed immensely toward strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.”
He acknowledged that the UAE and its leadership had “steadfastly” stood by Pakistan in its times of need.
“He stressed that the relationship benefitted from the warm sentiments between the leadership of the two countries, as well as the strong people-to-people linkages rooted in shared faith, values and culture,” the foreign office said.
Qureshi also appreciated the UAE’s support for Pakistan’s pavilion at the Expo 2020, a world expo to be hosted by Dubai originally scheduled for 20 October 2020-10 April 2021 but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers have kept the name Expo 2020 for marketing and branding purposes.
Pakistan’s pavilion at the Expo will cover an approximate area of 3,500 square meters and exhibit Pakistani culture, investment opportunities and tourism potential in the largest exhibition ever staged in the Arab world in which 190 countries and 25 million people are expected to participate.
The UAE ambassador “hailed the strong UAE-Pakistan relations and pledged to work toward further strengthening and diversifying them in all sectors for the benefit of the two countries and their peoples. He acknowledged the positive contribution made by Pakistani Diaspora toward the progress and development of the UAE.”
The ambassador reaffirmed the UAE’s desire to develop bilateral ties with Pakistan on “the basis of mutual respect, understanding, and common interests.”