WASHINGTON: The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could upgrade Pakistan’s safety rating to Category 1, allowing direct flights from Pakistani airports, a section of the US media reported on Saturday.
There have been no direct flights between the two countries since 2017 when the FAA downgraded Pakistan to Category 2 due to concerns over Pakistan’s aviation safety record.
Simple Flying, a niche news site focused on aviation, reported that the FAA will soon send its inspectors to Pakistan to assess the country’s airports and aircraft. The FAA is the largest transportation agency of the US government and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the country.
“Should the country’s aviation sector pass the test, there is a good possibility Pakistan will receive a Category 1 rating,” Simple Flying reported.
Simple Flying reported that if Pakistan received a Category 1 safety rating, “Pakistani carriers would be able to launch new direct routes to the US and establish code-sharing agreements with other airlines.”
Earlier this week, Head of Prime Minister’s Strategic Reforms Salman Sufi discussed the possibility of opening up direct flight access for Pakistan with US officials in Washington.
Briefing the Pakistani media after the meeting, Mr Sufi said that the US side “conveyed its readiness to have technical discussions with Civil Aviation Authority and other relevant departments and to undertake necessary visits for resumption of direct flights.”
A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with US standards. This rating allows air carriers from that country to establish service to the United States and to carry the code of US carriers through code-sharing arrangements. The FAA lowered Pakistan’s safety rating on July 15th, 2020 after determining it was not in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program.