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.”

General Bajwa, Bill Gates discuss Pakistan’s anti-polio campaign 

Updated 17 min 29 sec ago

General Bajwa, Bill Gates discuss Pakistan’s anti-polio campaign 

  • The American business tycoon praises the army for supporting the anti-polio drive and ensuring its reach and coverage 
  • The army chief passes on the credit to ‘grassroots workers’ 

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and American business tycoon and philanthropist Bill Gates spoke on telephone about Pakistan’s COVID-19 response and resumption of anti-polio campaign, said an official handout prepared and circulated by the military’s public relations wing, ISPR, on Saturday.
Gates applauded the Pakistan Army for supporting the anti-polio drive and ensuring the program’s proper reach and coverage.
In response, the army chief said that the effort to make Pakistan polio-free was a “national cause,” adding that the credit for running an effective campaign went to “grassroots workers, including mobile teams, law enforcement agencies and healthcare representatives.”
The two also discussed how to carry out a safe anti-polio drive for everyone amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“​Mr. Gates also appreciated Pakistan’s success against COVID-19 despite resource constraints,” said the statement. “The COAS attributed the success to a true national response executed through the mechanism of [National Command and Operation Center] which allowed optimization of resources.”
The American businessman reiterated the Gates Foundation’s ongoing commitment “to fight pandemics” around the world and to support Pakistan in its goals of ending polio and improving health for every child.