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Pakistan International Airlines Banned at U.S. Airports

Pakistan International Airlines Banned at U.S. Airports
Joe Cortez

The Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority scandal has reached the United States, with the Department of Transportation barring Pakistan International Airlines from operating at American airports. A letter sent on July 1, 2020 delivered the ban to the airline’s attorneys.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft will no longer be allowed to operate at American Airports, after the nation’s Civil Aviation Authority discovered up to 30 percent of all pilot’s licenses may have been fraudulently obtained. In a letter obtained by FlyerTalk, the U.S. Department of Transportation delivered the news to the airline’s attorneys on July 1, 2020.

FAA Recommended Pulling Special Authorization After Scandal Went Public

In April 2020, the DOT gave PIA a “special authorization” to fly 12 one-way or round-trip “planeload passenger or cargo charter flights” to and from U.S. airports. The goal of the flights was repatriation of each nation’s nationals during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a condition, the DOT spelled out that the flights must meet the “standard conditions” for Part 375 operations. The section requires pilots, operations and aircraft airworthiness meet both Federal Aviation Administration and ICAO standards.

After the special authorization, Pakistan International Airlines Flight 8303 crashed outside of Karachi, Pakistan after attempting to make a second landing attempt. The crash claimed 97 souls aboard the Airbus A320.

Roughly one month later, an investigation by the Pakistani CAA discovered around 30 percent of the nation’s licensed pilots may have obtained their credentials fraudulently. The airline immediately grounded 150 pilots in their ranks, and have since fired other employees.

The DOT was made aware of the situation on June 30, 2020. From a FAA memo, the agency noted the reported false certifications, and recommended the DOT immediately pull PIA’s special authorization, and “all operations into the United States National Airspace be terminated.”

The DOT agreed, and notified the airline’s U.S. attorneys one day later. In their letter, the DOT says they consider their actions legal and within the public interest. The ban includes any non-revenue flights operated by PIA.

Dark Days Ahead for PIA

The ban comes as PIA is facing even more problems within their ranks. Earlier in July, the Pakistani CAA grounded an additional 34 pilots, bringing the total number of affected aviators up to 184. In addition, a PIA flight attendant was reported as missing after a PIA flight landed in Toronto. It is unknown if the employee has been found.

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1 Comment

  1. jrpallante

    July 15, 2020 at 5:07 am

    Did PIA already fly the 12 authorized flights? If so, then this is a non-story, since PIA has not served any US cities in recent history.

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