Pakistan found deficient on Global Aviation Standards
Oversight Authorities have restricted Pakistan airlines
Best path to Compliance = guide with experience
Delay HARMING country’s economy
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has had as one of its critical initiatives- the No Country Left Behind (NCLB). Since 2014 this ICAO global program has focused its efforts to assist States in implementing ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). The main goal of this work is to help ensure that SARP implementation is better harmonized globally so that all States have access to the significant socio-economic benefits of safe and reliable air transport.
For multiple substantial reasons, the standards in Pakistan have been so deficient that EASA, FAA and ICAO have downgraded its status and/or suspended its carriers’ privileges to fly to/from other countries. The national press has cast aspersions on the Minister of Aviation, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority and Pakistan International Airlines.
The Journalists seem to be saying that the ill-defined and byzantine relationships among these three organizations have delayed what all agree needs be the next step: getting help to implement all of the ICAO SARPs. As documented below in great detail, whatever source of deferring the solution account for losses of Rs 160 billion in the aviation sector alone. More difficult to calculate is the collateral impact of diminished international flights to/from Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore.
The country’s “next biggest thing” is tourism, especially after the country as topped the Condé Nast Traveler’s list of best holiday destinations for 2020 in December 2019. This sector support 8,665 direct jobs in tourism value chain and contribute US$5.0 million to the local economy through tourism receipts.
These economic impacts alone should compel the Pakistan political decision makers to identify and authorize help to meet the standards with urgency!!! While internal buy-in among the aviation stakeholders to the global standards is essential to create a viable, long term safety culture, the assistance of organizations which have supported the Aviation Minister/CAA/airline in the joint adoption of this rigorous safety regime is essential.
The year 2020 proved to be a devastating year for domestic aviation due to the Coronavirus pandemic, restrictions, and reduction in travel, due to global travel restrictions, a loss of Rs 160 billion incurred to the aviation industry.
The National airline PIA faces a 107 billion revenue shortfall, more than 22 billion operation deficit, flight operation suspension has cost civil aviation 31.5 billion in aeronautical charges, due to Coronavirus across the country.
The sectors were affected while Pakistan’s aviation sector suffered heavy losses. According to sources, domestic and international flight operations were completely suspended during the first wave of Coronavirus. Due to international travel restrictions, foreign flights could not reach Pakistan. The Civil Aviation Authority CAA has incurred a loss of Rs 31.5 billion in aeronautical charges. After reducing the deficit, it has set a revenue target of Rs 194 billion for this year.
The United Nations, and subsidiary agencies, has cautioned its staff against flying with any Pakistani airlines. The UN warning comes after the ongoing pilot license scandal, wherein pilots were flying with fake licenses. The statement names 14 Pakistani carriers, including flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
Pakistan International is currently under a safety audit after a fatal crash last summer.
According to an advisory from the United Nations Security Message System, seen in the Times of India, employees have been told not to fly any Pakistan registered carrier. The warning means that UN staff in Pakistan will be unable to fly internationally or domestically with the listed airlines, setting up transport issues in the future.
Explaining the reason for the ban, the advisory states, “Due to an ongoing investigation of the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) Pakistan…due to dubious licenses caution is advised on the use of Pakistan-registered air operators.”2
The UN’s advisory is only the latest in a string of responses to Pakistan’s pilot license scandal. In June, Pakistan’s Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said at the time that possibly 30% of the country’s pilots had fake licenses and weren’t qualified to fly. The news came as a shock to aviation regulators globally and raised critical safety issues.
Flag carrier PIA moved quickly to suspend 150 pilots, out of 434 in total, over possibly dubious licenses. This meant nearly 35% of the airline’s pilots were not qualified to fly. Since then, the airline has sacked dozens of pilots and restored some too. However, international regulators have moved quickly to address the situation.
Pakistani pilots and PIA are under intense scrutiny and flight bans from the EU.
The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) banned Pakistan International from flying in EU airspace for at least six months and even recommended suspending the licenses of all Pakistan-qualified pilots. The FAA also banned and downgraded PIA’s rating to Category 2, preventing new routes to the country in the future.
In September, PIA opted not to appeal its six-month EU ban and instead focus on continuing to resolve the pilot scandal. Since then, the airline remains banned from the EU for a few more months, which can be extended again. Until Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority and PIA both pass stringent safety checks, they are unlikely to return to the EU.
‘Tourism is our mainstay, and we are quite excited about the season ahead. More tourists are expected for Eid-ul-Fitr (Muslim festival that follows the holy month of fasting) who might want to stay a little extra as this year, summer holidays in schools begin around the Eid,’ chirped the representative of a local business association of Kaghan Valley, in Pakistan’s North West, back in February 2020.
Like many others in the tourism economy, he had his hopes pinned on the fact that, amidst several measures adopted by the government for improving tourist experience, Pakistan topped the Condé Nast Traveler’s list of best holiday destinations for 2020 in December 2019
The visit of the royal couple Prince William and Kate Middleton and the maiden visit of the Buddhist Monk, the Most Venerable Arayawangso to Pakistan in October 2019 received international media coverage.
These events brought recognition to Pakistan’s heritage assets including 6,000 Buddhist monuments (including stupas and monasteries) located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KP).
Pakistan topped the Condé Nast Traveler’s list of best holiday destinations for 2020 in December 2019.
The ‘Economic Revitalization of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and (erstwhile) FATA’ project (World Bank and Multi-Donor Trust Fund-sponsored) conducted a tourism sector analysis.
It showed that the four most visited destinations of the KP province recorded five million tourists in 2018.
These sites support 8,665 direct jobs in tourism value chain and contribute $5 million to the local economy through tourism receipts.
The numbers swelled during the summer when KP’s destinations received more than 2 million tourists during the four Eid holidays in June 2019.
The scenic valley of Hunza (located along the ancient trade route of Karakoram Highway) registered a phenomenal year on year increase in the tourist numbers between 2018 and 2019.
 160,000,000,000 Pakistan Rupee =993,600,000 US Dollar
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