Hopeful Europe will lift flight ban by April 2023 — Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority

A Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777 comes in to land at Heathrow airport in west London on June 8, 2020. (AFP/File)
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Updated 06 October 2022

Hopeful Europe will lift flight ban by April 2023 — Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority

  • European Commission has invited Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority for a technical meeting on October 25 this year
  • EASA suspended PIA authorization to operate in EU member countries over licensing, flight safety concerns in 2020

KARACHI: Pakistan said on Wednesday it was hopeful its flight operations to European countries would be revived by April 2023 as the European Air Safety Agency (EASA) said it was working “constructively” with Pakistan’s civil aviation to rebuild its “confidence in the certification and oversight capabilities.”

In July 2020, the EASA had suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) authorization to operate in EU member countries over licensing and flight safety concerns.

The licensing scandal tainted Pakistan’s aviation industry and the country grounded 262 airline pilots suspected of dodging their exams following checks of their qualifications.

Pakistan’s grounding of the pilots followed a preliminary report on a PIA crash in Karachi that killed 97 people in May 2020.

The EASA suspension was later extended indefinitely. 

In January, the EASA refused to lift the ban citing an audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) indicating serious degradation of the PCAA certification and oversight capabilities.

But the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) says there has been an improvement in capabilities since.

“The European Commission (EC) has invited Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority for a technical meeting on October 25, 2022. We are hopeful that the matters will be resolved by April 2023,” Saifullah Khan, a PCAA spokesperson, said.

Khan said that the EC looks after mutual concerns involving the EASA, PIA and other airlines.

“The process of verification is underway and it takes [time],” he said. “In the last stage, the European Union will visit Pakistan, which is being scheduled,” he told Arab News, adding the EASA had also planned to do an online audit of the PIA in October.

The EC team intends to visit Pakistan in January-February 2023 after conducting PIA’s audit, he said.

Janet Northcote, Head of Communications EASA, said the EC and European Union Aviation Safety Agency were working with Pakistan to rebuild its confidence.

“The European Commission and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency are working constructively with the Pakistan CAA to rebuild confidence in the certification and oversight capabilities of the Pakistan authority, which is the first step required for a resumption of PIA flights to Europe,” she told Arab News via email.

Northcote said the EASA will conduct an audit of the operator. 

“EASA shall – when considering lifting a suspension of a TCO authorization – conduct an audit of the operator. When the suspension is due to major deficiencies in the oversight of the applicant by the State of the operator or the State of registry, the audit may include an assessment with the aim to verify if these oversight deficiencies have been corrected,” she added.

Northcote said since the EASA is the European Union Aviation Safety Agency— the word Union was added in 2018 and that the UK is no longer a member— hence its decision will not impact a similar ban by the UK.

“Any decisions taken by the European Commission working with EASA will not directly result in any change to the provision of flights to the UK,” she added.

A PIA official, however, said the EC’s meeting cannot be described as a milestone.

“The EC meeting is just facilitation and cannot be called a milestone,” he said. “It’s the EASA which has to take a decision and it takes its decision strictly taking progress on the safety scores for airlines into consideration,” the official told Arab News on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to speak on the issue. 

PCAA’s spokesperson said last year’s assessment showed the authority had fared well. 

“PCAA scored above average [in] South Asia’s score in that assessment and later significantly safety concerns were lifted,” he said.


Pakistan and UAE agree to harness ‘unexplored’ bilateral economic potential

Updated 01 December 2022

Pakistan and UAE agree to harness ‘unexplored’ bilateral economic potential

  • Pakistani finance minister identifies new areas of trade and investment while meeting the UAE envoy in Islamabad
  • Ishaq Dar says he is hopeful for the enhancement of bilateral relations between the two countries in the coming days

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s finance minister Ishaq Dar said on Thursday the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was working with his government in different sectors, though the two countries still had a great deal of economic potential that had not been harnessed and could benefit their people.

Dar made the observation during a meeting with the UAE envoy, Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salim Al-Zaabi, at the Finance Division in Islamabad.

They both agreed that the two countries shared long-standing strategic relations while exchanging views on further strengthening the economic ties between them.

“Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar stated that Pakistan and UAE are engaging in various areas including energy, refinery, petroleum and trade,” said an official statement released after the meeting. “However, still a lot of potential remains unexplored. In this regard, the Finance Minister also highlighted various new avenues in which both countries can trade and invest.”

The UAE ambassador said his country was fully cognizant of Pakistan’s development related policies and was also interested in augmenting its investment in new economic sectors.

The finance minister welcomed the proposal while assuring the UAE ambassador of full support and cooperation from the government.

Dar said he was hopeful for the enhancement of bilateral relations between the two countries in the coming days.


England score record first-day Test total against Pakistan

Updated 01 December 2022

England score record first-day Test total against Pakistan

  • Four English batsmen scored centuries as the tourists cantered to 506-4 at the close of play
  • Australia in the past scored 494 against South Africa on the first day of a Test in Sydney in 1910

RAWALPINDI: England became the first team to score 500 runs on the opening day of a Test match Thursday, putting Pakistan to the sword in Rawalpindi.

Four English batsmen scored centuries as the tourists cantered to 506-4 at the close of play.

The previous record for runs on the first day was the 494 Australia accumulated against South Africa in Sydney in 1910.

More than 500 runs in a day has only been achieved on four other occasions -- three times by England and once by Sri Lanka -- but never on the opening day of a Test.

The record is the 588 England ran up on day two of a test against India in 1936.

Ben Duckett scored a maiden century to match fellow opener Zak Crawley’s ton at the beginning of the day.

The 28-year-old left-hander pulled Pakistan paceman Haris Rauf for a boundary to reach the three-figure mark, but was out for 107 a few balls later off-spinner Zahid Mahmood.

The milestone for Duckett came in his first Test in six years, after he debuted against Bangladesh in 2016 but was discarded after scoring just 110 runs in four matches.

Earlier, 24-year-old Crawley drove Pakistan pacer Naseem Shah to the cover boundary to reach his third Test century in his 29th match, but not before overturning a leg-before decision via review.

The lanky 1.96-metre (six-foot-five) batsman showed his intent right from the start of the match, hitting three boundaries off Naseem's first over of the day, and bringing up his half-century with another one off spinner Zahid Mahmood.

He narrowly missed the chance to become the first England batsman to score a century before lunch, falling nine short.

England’s robust batting was the ideal start to the Test -- their first in Pakistan in 17 years -- after it hung in the balance Wednesday when several visiting players came down with a mystery virus.


Pakistan capable of ‘fully’ controlling militancy, interior minister says after ‘alarming’ attack by TTP

Updated 01 December 2022

Pakistan capable of ‘fully’ controlling militancy, interior minister says after ‘alarming’ attack by TTP

  • Pakistan Taliban on Wednesday claimed attack on a truck carrying police officers on their way to protect polio workers near Quetta city
  • Attack came a day after Pakistani Deputy Foreign Minister traveled to Kabul for consultations with Afghan Taliban, including on growing TTP threat

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah said on Thursday the government was capable of “fully” controlling militancy in the country a day after the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in the southwestern city of Quetta.

A suicide bomber blew himself up near a truck carrying police officers on their way to protect polio workers near Quetta on Wednesday, killing a police officer and three civilians from the same family who were traveling nearby in a car. The bombing also wounded over 20 others, mostly policemen, officials said.

The attack came a day after Pakistani Deputy Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khan was in Kabul for discussions with the Afghan Taliban, including on the latest threat from the TTP. Islamabad has been pushing Afghanistan’s Taliban government not to allow the TTP to use their soil to launch attacks inside Pakistan.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the interior minister called terror activities by the TTP ‘dangerous’ for peace and stability in the entire region, saying the Afghan Taliban should also be concerned about this.

“I assure the nation that we will fully control terrorism in the country. The TTP has accepted the responsibility of carrying out the attack in Quetta which is an alarming as well as a condemnable matter,” he said. “The TTP has access to all sorts of facilities in Afghanistan, so it should be a matter of concern for the government there.”

He said the TTP should not be seen as an “out-of-control” force but warned the provincial governments and law and enforcement agencies in the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces where most attacks take place to take the matter seriously.

“I assure the provinces that full support will be provided by the federation. Political differences exist but the state comes first,” the minister said.

Wednesday’s bombing happened two days after The Pakistani Taliban ended a monthslong cease-fire with the government in Islamabad, ordering its fighters to resume attacks across the country, where scores of deadly attacks have been blamed on the insurgent group. In Monday’s statement, the outlawed TTP group said it was ending the five-month cease-fire after the army stepped up operations against the TTP.

Pakistan and the TTP had agreed to an indefinite cease-fire in May after talks in Afghanistan’s capital. 


Pakistan approves release of blocked payments, averting threat of suspension of Google services

Updated 47 min 9 sec ago

Pakistan approves release of blocked payments, averting threat of suspension of Google services

  • The central bank suspended direct carrier billing mechanism last September, blocking $34 million payment to international companies
  • DCB is an online mobile payment method that allows users to make purchases by charging payments to their mobile phone carrier bill

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for IT Syed Amin Ul Haque said on Thursday the country’s finance ministry had “agreed” to his proposal to release blocked payments to international companies like Google, averting a threat of the possible closure of services.

 

In September 2022, the country’s central bank had suspended a direct carrier billing (DCB) mechanism after which a $34 million payment through mobile companies to international service providers — including Google, Amazon, and Meta — was stuck.

DCB is an online mobile payment method that allows users to make purchases by charging payments to their mobile phone carrier bill. Telecommunications companies in Pakistan allow customers to purchase products through airtime and then remit funds abroad, reflecting such transactions as payments for the acquisition of IT-related services.

The suspension of the DCB mechanism gave rise to fears Pakistanis would now be required to use their bank cards to purchase services. This was a major concern in a country where 100 million people are unbanked.

“The State Bank of Pakistan had been directed to delay the implementation of the Direct Carrier Billing (#DCB) policy for one month,” Haque said.

“Telecom operators had been given a one-month time to implement payment procedures and within a month, the ministry of IT, finance, and the State Bank would formulate a plan of action in mutual consultation in that regard”.

 

The finance ministry and state bank have not yet commented on the development.

Haque said he took notice of the situation after receiving complaints from stakeholders, including the Telecom ministry, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and cellular service operators. Following that, he wrote a letter to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and requested his ministry to resume the payment so that paid Google apps would not be suspended in Pakistan.

The IT minister thanked Dar and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Bajwa for making a “timely decision on the issue.”


Maersk launches Pakistan’s largest integrated logistics park at Karachi's Port Qasim

Updated 01 December 2022

Maersk launches Pakistan’s largest integrated logistics park at Karachi's Port Qasim

  • Facility holds total footprint of more than 1.3 million square feet across seven cities
  • Park will allow connecting, simplifying supply chains for importers, exporters, traders

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to connect and simplify supply chains for Pakistani importers, exporters and traders, Danish shipping company A.P. Moller Maersk (Maersk) on Wednesday inaugurated an integrated logistics park in Pakistan’s southeastern port city of Karachi, with a total footprint of more than 1.3 million square feet across seven cities, a statement issued by the company said.

Established at Karachi’s Port Qasim, a deep-water seaport situated on the coastline of the Arabian Sea, the park includes six purpose-built sheds, making Maersk the country’s largest logistics and warehousing provider.

The integrated logistics park would act as a warehouse, including a consolidation and fulfillment center and cold storage. This facility will also cater to storage requirements of cargo from retail and lifestyle, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), automotive, and technology sectors. It will also serve as the perfect warehouse destination for customers to manage their import and export cargo with the least time delays while connecting to and from vessels.

 “At Maersk, our purpose is to improve life for all by integrating the world,” said Hasan Faraz, Managing Director of Maersk Pakistan commented during the inauguration of the facility.

 “With our state-of-the-art Integrated Logistics Park, we want to ensure that we play an important role in connecting and simplifying the supply chains for importers, exporters, and traders of Pakistan.”

Danish Ambassador to Pakistan, Jakob Linulf (center), inaugurates Maersk's Integrated Logistics Park at Karachi's Port Qasim, Pakistan on November 30, 2022. (@Maersk/Twitter)

Faraz added that he was proud of this major investment in Pakistan as it would serve as a critical building block in the logistics infrastructure.

“It is also apt to recognize the unwavering support our customers have extended, with whom we could have meaningful conversations that helped us design a solution that creates value in their supply chains.”

Jakob Linulf, the Danish Ambassador to Pakistan, who was also present at the facility’s launch ceremony, said Pakistan had incredible potential to grow.

“Despite the various current challenges, Maersk has played an important role as a trusted partner for Pakistan’s traders,” the statement quoted him as saying. “Maersk’s commitment to invest in a large facility such as the one inaugurated today in Port Qasim speaks volumes of the potential that is out there to be harnessed.”

The statement added that the logistics park would come equipped with modern warehouse management systems. 

“With Maersk taking care of the movement of cargo – ocean transportation on one side and landside transportation on the other side of the warehouse – customers will experience lesser handovers of their cargo, leading to higher efficiencies, faster turnaround times, deeper visibility and better control over the cargo movement,” the statement said. “All of this will result in better predictability of supply chains.”