PIA yet to present eight planes for clearance to fly to EU destinations

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is still unable to use eight of its aircraft on routes to European cities, as the country's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has cleared only one of the aircraft denied entry by the 27-nation European Union (EU).

Early this year, the EU imposed operational restrictions on 20 PIA aircraft, saying they suffered from poor maintenance. Of these, 11 have been allowed to resume operations. (See: EU bans PIA flights on safety fears)

The restricted aircraft included Boeing 747s and Airbus A310s. The CAA can give clearance only after the PIA calls for it, agency sources said, pointing out that so far only one aircraft has been presented for inspection and cleared.

The reason for PIA's slow progress towards getting the aircraft inspected and cleared, so as to remove the restrictions on flying to the EU, is not clear. The operational restriction coupled with the airline's perilous financial position has resulted in the management revising the routes.

Meanwhile, the PIA management has appointed Amir Zafar from the Principal Army Aviation Engineering Training School as its director of quality assurance. PIA Chairman Zafar Ahmed Khan denied that Zafar was given the prestigious post because of his association with the army. He said that both in-house and external candidates were considered, and the best man was chosen.