By Hamid Khan Wazir
ISLAMABAD: Rejecting the impression that his statement was irresponsible or before time, the Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan made it clear that his recent comments regarding fake licenses of PIA pilots in Pakistan were in the best interest of the country and institutions.
Sarwar Khan said that some circles were criticizing his statement regarding fake licenses without any reason.
He refuted that his statement regarding fake licenses created any crisis or caused damage to Pakistan International Airline (PIA) as international flight operations are already suspended due to COVID-19.
He termed the suspension of flight operations as an opportunity for Pakistan to fix the problems in PIA.
Talking to foreign media, Ghulam Sarwar Khan had informed the Parliament that out of 860 pilots in Pakistan 262 hold dubious licenses.
After this statement several Pakistani pilots working in the international airlines were grounded, meanwhile, the European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended PIA’s authorization to operate in EU member states for six months.
On May 22, the Karachi-bound flight PK-8303 crashed in Karachi’s Model Colony neighborhood, close to the Jinnah International Airport.
The preliminary investigation report of the incident was presented in parliament after a month which held the pilot and the air-traffic controller (ATC) responsible for the crash.
The minister said that in such incidents the facts were not shared with the nation in the past, saying, “we want to inform masses about what is wrong, and what we are going to fix”.
He said that the protection of passengers is our top priority as it will buy goodwill for the airline as well as the Country.
Moreover, Sarwar pointed out that there must be some reasons for which PIA encountered five plane-crashes in 10 years.
Regarding EASA’s suspension of PIA operations, the minister said, “It was the outcome of an already ongoing scrutiny which was in process since 2014.”
The minister informed that the government wanted to restructure the national airline instead of privatizing; adding that the number of planes of the PIA fleet would also be increased from 30 to 45.
He said that the government had decided to get international certifications for all PIA aircrafts after the Karachi crash.
He further informed that scrutiny of documents of all PIA staff including pilots was already in the process under the supervision of international experts.
He said PIA’s loss in 2018 was Rs 4 billion which was reduced to Rs 1 billion due to the policies of the current government.
However, the loss now stands at six billion because of the suspension of international flight operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He further said that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which was in profit, had also suffered losses of sixty billion rupees since January 2020.
He said, “Reforms are the priority agenda of the government under which two departments of CAA would be separated. Besides, a separate director-general for the authority, and a supervisor for regulator department will be appointed.”
Sarwar said that there was no truth in rumors of privatization of Roosevelt Hotel in New York instead the government is planning to operate Roosevelt Hotel in New York on lease or joint venture basis.
Answering a question regarding ‘Minus-One’ talk, the minister said neither Imran khan nor PTI is going to be minus-ed as Imran Khan is the central leader of PTI who won two seats simultaneously in 2018 elections.