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KARACHI: Restoration of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight operations to the European Union (EU) in 2021 appears to be unlikely due to a lack of coordination between the airline and its regulatory authority.

According to PIA sources, the national flag carrier’s Safety Performance Analysis (SPA) has shown significant improvements, especially in the high-risk areas such as destabilized approaches and descent profiles.

IATA’s recent renewal, the IOSA audit, has duly verified this improvement.

Now, the restoration of PIA flights to the EU depends on the results of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) audits to be conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in the coming months, they said.

Furthermore, they said that ICAO, which was supposed to conduct the CAA audit in July, would take at least six months to finalize its audit report.

After that, the authority would go for the EASA audit in case of ICAO’s good remarks.

“Being an international airline, we have to go through different audits regularly; hence the PIA has offered the PCAA to assist in its upcoming ICAO and EASA audits. However, no response has been received from the authority so far,” they said.

Therefore, the national flag carrier was not optimistic about restoration of its flight operations to the EU this year, they added.

The CAA spokesman was not available for comments.

Meanwhile, PIA sources said that the airline was facing a severe financial crunch.

The airline had successfully mitigated the pandemic’s impact through its repatriation flights last year, but the same could not happen in 2021.

Replying to a question, they said that the management was now striving for increasing cargo flights.

For this purpose, the airline had started strengthening corporate relations with the business community.

To another question, they said that the airline had commenced “the segregation process”, and as per its plan, the private sector would be invited to run all “non-core operations” through “joint ventures (JVs)”.

They said that Air Blue Flight Catering (ABFC) and Kitchen Cuisine Flight Catering (KCFC) had submitted their offers against PIA’s tender, and the latter was awarded the contract.

Similarly, the airline is also planning to hand over its airport services to the private sector through joint ventures, and for this purpose, the airline will publish a tender notice in the coming days.

They also confirmed that PIA would “segregate” its Precision Engineering Complex, and discussions in this regard were underway.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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