PIA downgraded to one-star airline

LONDON: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been downgraded to a one-star airline, the lowest rating out of a total of seven stars, by AirlineRatings.com.It is one of the top airline rating websites. The rating comes after the airline was suspected to be harboring 262 pilots with fake licenses.

Recently, the European Union banned PIA operations in the bloc for six-months. This reduced it to a one-star airline from a a three-star one. AirlineRatings.com has stripped PIA of its three-stars for the IATA Operational Safety Audit and one-star for the ICAO country audit.

The editor-in-chief of the website, Geoffrey Thomas, said, “Clearly there needs to be an investigation into possible bribery and falsifying related to the pilot licenses.” “This is deeply disturbing as the IOSA audit and ICAO country audit should pick this up,” Thomas said.

In a statement, IATA said they are following reports from Pakistan about fakepilot licenses, calling them “concerning” and “a serious lapse in licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator”. “We are trying to obtain more information on the matter,” the statement read.

After Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan announced last week that 262 out of 860 PIA pilots are suspected to have fake licenses, 150 pilots were sacked. The airline is under fire in the aftermath of its plane, A320, crash that killed 98 people in May in Karachi.

Experts say PIA is bankrupt. According to a recent report by Bloomberg, the national flag carrier is likely to be the first airline to default because of a global demand slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A ratings downgrade to the lowest safety standards could further dent PIA’s business because customers will avoid travelling through it while other countries may close their airports for Pakistan’s national carrier.