The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Saturday resumed its Paris operations under an alternative arrangement.
A flight carrying 260 passengers left the French capital for Islamabad, a month and half after the European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) had suspended the national carrier’s authorisation to operate in its member states for six months.
The plane also has 2.5 tons of cargo on board. He passengers were seen off by the PIA’s country and station managers.
The PIA has made alternative arrangements to resume its operations in European countries through special charter flights.
Following the EASA’s move, the UK Civil Aviation Authority also withdrew PIA’s permit to operate from of its airports in Birmingham, London and Manchester. Later, the United States also imposed a ban on flights of the national flag carrier for six months citing dubious licences.
The national carrier has reached an agreement with a Portuguese airliner to resume UK flights.
The Portuguese airliner will operate an Airbus A330 with a capacity of more than 300 seats for the PIA.
According to Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar, government is utilising all technical and diplomatic means to lift the ban and the PIA would restore its normal flight operations in two months.
The European air safety regulator had imposed the ban in the wake of the grounding of 262 Pakistani pilots whose licences were termed “dubious” by the aviation minister.
The EASA said it was concerned about the validity of the Pakistani pilot licences following the minister’s statement.
The European regulator has recently rejected PIA’s appeal and decided to maintain the ban on its flights till December 31
Sarwar said the government would file another appeal against the decision on August 31.
The Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA), the union for PIA’s pilots, had alleged that the announcement of the “dubious” licence holders was a planned government move against the pilots to cut their headcount.
“The malicious efforts of some at the helm of affairs with a mindset to cut the pilots down to size have resulted in PIA being reduced to an airline on paper,” the union said in statement.
It also rejected the government’s list of pilots with licences deemed dubious, and pointed out that it was full of discrepancies, demanding a judicial investigation.
The 262 pilots – 109 commercial and 153 airline transport pilots – were grounded on June 26, pending conclusion of inquiries against them. They included 141 from PIA, nine from Air Blue, 10 from Serene Airline, and 17 from Shaheen Airlines, which has closed down.