The issue regarding the possession of fake licences by pilots took a bizarre turn whether a letter surfaced in which the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said all pilots have genuine licences. The aviation regulatory downplayed the seriousness of the matter and instead blamed the media for exaggerating it.
The letter was written to a high-ranking official in Oman who had sought an explanation over safety regulations and threatened to close the airspace for Pakistani flights. The government seems to in damage control mode after the recent statement of the aviation minister. Or else, the letter was intended to placate Omani officials and address their reservations.
Nevertheless, the claims by the CAA that all pilots’ licences are genuine should be investigated. We had heard that action was been taken against pilots with dubious credentials and many were either sacked or grounded. These actions have hurt the reputation of pilots and tarnished the nation’s image. The government needs to provide a plausible explanation whether the pilots have genuine licences.
If pilots do indeed have genuine licences and are allowed to resume flights, then their stance will be vindicated. The pilots have decided to fight back as their jobs and reputation is at stake. The onus would then fall on the aviation minister who issued a damning statement in parliament. The minister seemed to have deflected attention from the air crash investigation in Karachi and instead implicated the entire pilots’ community.
The statement of the aviation minister last month had far-reaching consequences. The United States suspended all flights and even revoked permission to operate special direct flights repatriating citizens. UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Malaysia, and Vietnam grounded Pakistani pilots, PIA was downgraded to a one-star airline and was banned from Europe and UK.
As the attention has shifted to fake licence issues, there is no mention of the PIA air crash investigation. The minister blamed the air-traffic controller and pilots for the disaster and brushed the matter aside. We are still unsure what further action is taken until we get a full report. These are serious issues which should be carefully handled.
These fake licences issue is getting murkier with statements from all sides and has given the opposition an issue to bash the government. Instead of making feasible strategies to lift the airline industry from a crisis, the government seems to be making matters worse leaving behind many unanswered questions.