Pakistan’s state-run airline is to ground 150 pilots, accusing them of obtaining licenses by having others take exams for them, an accusation that followed a probe into last month’s crash that killed 97 people in Karachi.
Pakistan International Airlines did not give additional details about the alleged cheating but said a process to fire the pilots had been initiated.
Thursday’s announcement came after the country’s minister for civil aviation, Ghulam Sarqar Khan, told parliament on Wednesday that "262 out of 860, which is 30%, of our pilots have dubious licenses or a fake degree."
He explained that these pilots did not pass through proper exams, with some of them having someone else sit the exam for them, while others did not have "proper flying experience".
“262 out of 860, which is 30%, of our pilots have dubious licenses or a fake degree, they did not pass through proper exams, some of them even did not appear themselves in the exams, and don’t have proper flying experience,” he said.
The minister’s revelation came as he presented preliminary findings of a probe to parliament into the May 22 Airbus A320 crash.
His statement stunned lawmakers present in the National Assembly and shocked family members of passengers who died last month when Flight PK8303 went down after departing from the eastern city of Lahore, crashing in a congested residential area in Karachi.
The crash killed 97 people, including all the crew members. There were only two survivors on board and a girl died on the ground.
In presenting preliminary findings of the probe into the crash to parliament, Khan said the pilot, before making his first failed landing attempt, did not pay attention to warnings from the air control tower when he was told the plane was too high to land.
However, he said the pilot and co-pilot were medically fit and qualified to fly.