Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will begin operating flights to Australia on 22 April, as announced by the Federal Minister for Aviation, Chaudhry Ghulam Sarwar.
The flight will be the first in the history of Pakistan, and the minister revealed that PIA has acquired three new aircraft while four more are being added to the fleet. Upon the lifting of the ban by the European Union (EU), PIA will also operate three flights to the United Kingdom — to Manchester, Birmingham, and London.
Flight operations to African countries including Tanzania and Uganda will also begin soon. Moreover, flights to New York will be considered after the arrival of the new aircraft.
The minister remarked that PIA is being reconstructed and will soon become a profit-making state-owned company.
He slammed the previous governments and mentioned that when the PTI assumed power, PIA had 29 rundown aircraft and a debt of Rs. 462 billion. He added that PIA initially had 14,000 employees whereas only half of these were really needed to run the organization.
Commenting on the fake pilot licenses issue, Minister Sarwar said that 1,800 employees, including pilots, engineers, and technicians, had fake degrees when he had taken office and many of them were fired under a ruling of the Supreme Court.
He said that 262 PIA pilots had questionable documents in 2018, of which 50 were fired after an inquiry that had lasted one-and-a-half years. The government had also filed cases against the sacked pilots and engineers, as well as the officials who had hired them.
Minister Sarwar also spoke about the EU’s ban on PIA and mentioned that the World Aviation Organization had carried out an audit of PIA and the ministry had shown its records to the organization. He added that the organization was satisfied with the documents.
The minister divulged that a team from the European Union Aviation Authority will visit Pakistan this month to audit the records and flights. He said that PIA’s deficit is declining and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had signed an agreement with the aviation authority in England to test PIA’s pilots until the nation develops a system of its own.