The Aviation Division on Thursday said that the credentials of almost all Pakistani pilots working for foreign airlines have been confirmed, as the government continues to manage the fallout from a scandal over aviator licences.
Airlines in 10 countries had demanded proof of valid flying licences for their Pakistani pilots after it emerged about a third of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aviators were holding “bogus or suspicious” licences.
In all, the foreign airlines asked for proof of 176 Pakistani pilot licences.
Of these, 166 “have been validated as genuine and certified by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) Pakistan as having no anomaly”, Aviation Division spokesperson Abdul Sattar Khokhar said in a statement.
The “process for the remaining 10 shall be concluded by next week,” he added.
The 10 airlines asking for proof of valid Pakistani pilots' licences were from Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Malaysia, Vietnam, Ethiopia and Hong Kong, according to the press release.
Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had sent shockwaves through the industry last month by revealing that some 260 pilots had dubious licences.
About 150 worked for PIA — almost one-third of the airline's staff of 434 pilots.
The announcement came a month after a PIA plane crashed into houses in Karachi, killing 98 people.
Investigators have blamed the crash on human error, though both the pilots had valid licences.
Out of the 262 pilots identified as possessing 'suspicious' credentials, the licences of 28 were cancelled after approval by the cabinet, Khokhar's statement said. It added that the process to verify the licences of 76 pilots had been started while the processing of the remaining cases will be initiated "shortly".
"The entire process of scrutiny and validation followed by necessary disciplinary action is being closely monitored and personally supervised by" Aviation Minister Khan, the handout emphasised.
The statement comes a day after it emerged that, in what appeared to be a direct contradiction to the aviation minister’s allegation that almost 40 per cent of Pakistani pilots possessed ‘fake licences’, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had termed all commercial/airline transport pilots licences (CPL/ATPL) it issued as “genuine and validly issued”.
“It is important to clarify that all CPL/ATPL pilot licences issued by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority are genuine and validly issued. None of the pilot licences are fake, rather the matter has been misconstrued and incorrectly highlighted in the media/social media,” wrote CAA Director General Hassan Nasir Jamy in a letter dated July 13 to a high-ranking aviation official of Oman. Jamy is also the secretary of the Aviation Division.