IATA audit team due next month to assess PIA safety

Published August 27, 2020
The last such audit was carried out in 2018. — AFP/File
The last such audit was carried out in 2018. — AFP/File

RAWALPINDI/KARACHI: A designated safety audit team of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is expected to visit Pakistan in the middle of September to assess the operational management and control systems of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

The operational safety audit (IOSA) is carried out after every two years. The last such audit was carried out in 2018. The audit programme was designed by the IATA in 2003 to access the operational management and control systems of airlines.

According to the IATA, safely connecting people and business is its top priority as it works with airlines to raise standards and implement best practices.

Meanwhile, a pilots’ body on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to play his role in saving the PIA by replacing its incumbent management with those having knowledge of the aviation sector. It claimed that the national flag carrier had lost around Rs90 billion in just two months due to a ban imposed by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The EU agency had suspended PIA’s authorisation to operate to EU member states for a period of six months from July 1 due to safety concerns after the aviation minister had made public a preliminary report on the May 22 plane crash in Karachi and said that over 260 pilots had dubious licences. It, however, gave the PIA right to appeal against its decision.

The PIA is set to file a formal appeal soon.

A spokesman for the Pakistan Airline Pilots Association (Palpa) said that taking advantage of the EASA’s six-month ban, foreign airlines had expanded their operations to major cities in Pakistan to capitalise the market share. “It is feared that the time is not far away when most of the local routes will be eaten up by other airlines, triggered by the poor policy of PIA management,” he warned.

He said the British Airways announced that it would start operating flights from Heathrow to Islamabad from September — two months earlier than its scheduled plan. Holding PIA chief Air Marshal Arshad Malik and his team responsible, Palpa demanded that the PIA management be replaced by the “persons who have substantial knowledge of the aviation sector and operational experience”.

“If foreign airlines start taking more business by offering their services to a large number of passengers then identity of the PIA would be lost,” the spokesman feared.

He alleged that the PIA management was taking “draconian measures” against pilots. He said the prime minister acknowledged that the issue of fake licences was created unnecessarily.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2020

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