63 Sacked From Pakistan International Over Fake License Scandal

***Update on 08/05/2020 @ 13:26 UTC – Inserted statement from PIA***

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has fired 63 people in the continued fallout from the fake license scandal. Five of the 63 were pilots who held fake licenses. The others were in various positions.

EASA bans Pakistani licensed pilots
PIA has faced the brunt of the public fallout from the pilot scandal. Photo: Getty Images

63 employees fired

In July, PIA fired 63 employees according to a report in the Financial Express. Of those, five pilots were fired over fake qualifications, embezzlement, and absence from duty.

Another 28 employees were fired for fake education credentials, and 27 were fired for being absent from duty without notice. Two more were fired over embezzlement charges, and the final employee was fired for incompetence.

Others saw demotions. Four employees were demoted for refusing to work. Promotions for three others were held back over a violation of standard operating procedures.

PIA’s A320s do the bulk of the airline’s short-haul operations. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr

Moreover, 17 pilots were removed from the airline’s employment on the order of the federal cabinet. This included 12 captains and five first officers. These pilots were all found to have doubtful qualifications per the report.

PIA offered Simple Flying the following comment:

“PIA is in the process of restructuring and has adopted a zero tolerance policy when it comes to safety, transparency and responsibility. The 63 employees terminated is a manifestation of this policy. It may be clarified that not all of the 63 employees dismissed or terminated were pilots holding dubious licences.”

Continued fallout from the pilot scandal

Back in June, the aviation world was rocked by a scandal. Alongside the preliminary reports of a Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A320 crash, the Pakistani government also indicated there were widespread pilots with fraudulent licenses. In the aftermath, PIA suspended 150 pilots over fake licenses.

PIA 777
The airline’s international operations are primarily conducted using Boeing 777s. Photo: Alec Wilson via Flickr

After that, the international fallout continued. The EASA recommended Pakistan-licensed pilots to be suspended from flying, the EASA then banned PIA from operating in Europe, and the United States banned PIA from operating in its airspace over the licensing scandal.

Despite this, there have been some concerns that there is more to the situation. Captain Jack Netskar, the President of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA), told Simple Flying that there’s more than meets the eye.

Thus far, it appears that the airline is experiencing a significant amount of fallout over the licensing scandal. Pakistan’s aviation regulatory authority has not indicated any sort of systemic changes to the pilot training and licensing program in Pakistan. PIA remains the global face of Pakistani aviation. From a public relations standpoint, this crisis has damaged the airline’s reputation.

PIA is the global face of Pakistani aviation. Photo: Getty Images

What comes next for PIA?

PIA has to focus on rebuilding its global reputation and ensuring that it is continuing to make meaningful progress on rooting out anyone involved with the pilot’s scandal. After that, the carrier can move on to managing the public fallout.

Much of the airline’s international operations remain restricted because of the scandal. Until foreign regulators are convinced that the airline has successfully managed the problem and has a plan going forward to ensure nothing like this ever happens again, only then will the airline likely be able to resume its long-haul aspirations.

For budding pilots in Pakistan, the scandal also does hamper their career potentials. Without an overhaul of the system that limits fraudulent licensing, it may be hard for new pilots trained in Pakistan to find employment with other carriers. That responsibility, however, rests with Pakistan’s civil aviation authority and not with PIA.

Altogether, do you think PIA is making the right moves to manage the crisis? Let us know in the comments!