July 1, 2020 / 9:11 AM / a month ago

UAE seeks to verify credentials of Pakistani pilots in its airlines

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates is seeking to verify the credentials of the Pakistani pilots and engineers employed in its airlines after the South Asian government grounded 262 pilots for holding “dubious” qualifications.

FILE PHOTO: A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) passenger plane arrives at the Benazir International airport in Islamabad, Pakistan, December 2, 2015. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Pakistan grounded the pilots on June 26 on suspicion that they allegedly falsified their examinations to qualify for flying aircraft, leading to them having licenses the country’s aviation minister termed “dubious.

A total of 262 of the country’s 860 pilots were affected, including 141 of national carrier Pakistan International Airline’s (PIA) pilots. [nL4N2E32JJ]

The Director General of the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi requested the verification of the credentials of Pakistani pilots, aircraft maintenance engineers, and flight operations officers working in the Middle Eastern country in a June 29 letter reviewed by Reuters to the Director General of the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority Hassan Nasir Jamy.

“We would like to request your good offices to verify the licensing credentials of the attached pilots list who are currently holding UAE’s pilots licences based on licences and qualifications issued by Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority,” the letter said.

Pakistan’s aviation ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) on Tuesday suspended PIA’s authorisation to fly to the bloc for six months because of the licensing concerns. [nL4N2E73S1]

In a statement on Wednesday, the Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA), the union for PIA’s pilots, alleges the announcement of the “dubious” license 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 has resulted in PIA being reduced to an airline on paper,” the union said.

The PALPA rejected the government’s list of pilots with licences deemed dubious, and pointed out that it was full of discrepancies, demanding a judicial investigation. [nL8N2E73RU]

Writing by Asif Shahzad; Additional Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan in Karachi, Pakistan; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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