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PIA update: Airline sacks 63 pilots, resumes services to UK

written by Sandy Milne | August 6, 2020
Pakistan International Airlines aircraft number AP-BMH pictured at Heathrow (Geograph/Thomas Nugent).

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) revealed that it has sacked 63 of its employees following a spate of safety scandals.

On 22 May, an Airbus A320 operating PIA flight 8303 crashed on its way from Lahore to Karachi, killing all 97 passengers onboard. The incident sparked a subsequent investigation, which revealed 260 of 860 pilots active in the country had cut corners on their certification exams.

Abdullah Khan, spokesman for the airline, revealed that only five of the sacked employees this month were pilots, and did not detail grounds for dismissal.

However, Khan did say that, overall, a further 28 employees were removed for fake education credentials and 27 employees were sacked for being absent from duty without notice. Two employees were fired on charges of embezzlement and one lost their position on grounds of “incompetence”.

The news comes shortly after PIA revealed plans to resume flights to three cities in England, despite a ban from operating within the UK and the European Union.

The carrier was first ousted from European airspace on 2 June, after allegations of widespread corruption within the airline were vented in the National Assembly by the Pakistani aviation minister. And while the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has indicated that the ban will likely remain in place until the end of the year, PIA plans to sidestep restrictions in the UK through the use of a wet-leasing arrangement with Portuguese firm Hi Fly.

PIA announced late last week that the airline is looking to relaunch a limited repatriation schedule to and from London Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham on 14 August, connecting with the national capital – Islamabad.

The airline will operate the route using a single Airbus A330-900neo aircraft in place of the usual Boeing 777 fleet.

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While a set schedule is yet to be released, PIA had previously stated it hoped to have one outlined by the end of the Eid al-Adha festival (which came to a close on Monday).

The news follows closely after British Airways announced the resumption of a thrice-weekly service from Heathrow to Islamabad, commencing on 13 August.

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