Pakistan International Airlines has sacked 54 more employees over various issues, including fake credentials, bribery, smuggling, and more. The decision comes as the airline undertakes strict accountability checks following a crash in May. PIA has already suspended 150 pilots for possibly using fake licenses.
PIA fired 54 employees this week for a number of offenses. According to National Herald, violations included tampering documents, theft, destruction of official records, taking bribes, smuggling, unauthorized absences, and more. It’s unclear if more pilots were suspended over the ongoing fake license fiasco.
As mentioned, these firings are a part of PIA and the Pakistani government’s efforts to fix underlying issues with the airline and rebuild its reputation. This is hasn’t been an easy task, with hundreds of pilots suspended over fake licenses and PIA being banned from EU airspace for at least six months.
The decisions came after inquiries and committee reports, which highlighted the various issues within the workforce. Additionally, 20 employees were applauded for their work, receiving commendations and monetary rewards. However, it’s unlikely the investigations are over just yet.
EASA conducts safety audit
Last month, the EASA, Europe’s aviation regulator, conducted a safety audit of Pakistan International. A team of four experts flew into Lahore to inspect the carrier’s operations, including its fleet, maintenance, ground handling, and engineering teams.
While audits are quite routinely conducted every two years, this check came due to the tragic crash of PK8303 in a residential area of Karachi on May 22nd which resulted in 97 fatalities. Subsequent investigations exposed a massive fake pilot license issue and severe issues within the carrier, resulting in EASA and FAA taking action against PIA.
For now, PIA remains banned from flying to Europe for at least six months and has opted not to appeal its ban. Instead, the carrier will focus on fixing problems and planning for a safer return to the skies sometime next year. However, the lack of PIA flights to Europe has been a boost to other carriers, who have increased operations to Pakistan.
Future remains tough
2020 was meant to be PIA’s year to finally break-even after years of deep losses. After a break-even 2020, the carrier planned to capitalize on profitable European routes and lease new planes, eventually reaching profitability in 2023. However, this year’s crash and unprecedented downturn have shelved any such plans for the coming years.
PIA has been trying to boost revenues with competitive domestic flights but it continues to financially struggle. The carrier will likely continue to assess and improve its operations in the coming months and eventually restart more international flights. However, significant state support will be needed to keep the airline going through this crisis.
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