KARACHI, May 29: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suspended on Tuesday operations of Bhoja Air for not having the required fleet strength of three aircraft.

Sources said the private airline did not meet the CAA requirement of having at least three aircraft, but still it was permitted to operate by former CAA director-general Air Marshal (retd) Khalid Chaudhry.

It took the aviation regulator over two months and 27 days to find out that the airline, mostly operating from Karachi, had less than three aircraft.

CAA spokesperson Pervez George told Dawn that CAA chief Nadeem Yusufzai had suspended the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) of the company because it did not meet the mandatory fleet strength requirement.

He said the airline would be allowed to resume operations when it showed its three aircraft to the CAA.

Bhoja Air spokesperson Chaudhry Salman confirmed that the airline’s AOC had been suspended temporarily. But, he said, Bhoja Air had three aircraft, two Boeings 737– 200 and one DC 9, and another aircraft, a Boeing 737–400, was acquired last month bringing the number of its aircraft to four.

Last month, he said, one aircraft had been returned and another crashed near Islamabad. Of the two remaining aircraft, the airline was using one while the other was on ground, he said.

Chaudhry Salman said efforts were being made to get back the DC 9 aircraft which had been returned so that the airline met the CAA requirement of owning three aircraft.

The sources said Air Marshal Chaudhry had issued the air operator’s certificate to Bhoja Air on March 2 this year and it was valid up to Dec 31 this year. Another CAA document (operations specifications), which mentions the number and models of aircraft, was issued on March 2 and was valid up to April 30. This document mentions that the airline has three aircraft. They said the document mentions that the DC 9 was obtained from M/s Star Air on wet lease for 90 days.

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