A number of international airlines, including Qatar Airways, have launched an investigation into Pakistani employees and grounded them until further notice after the authorities reported that 262 pilots had fake licenses, a media report said.
Last week, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) grounded 150 pilots with "dubious licenses" after the preliminary investigation report of the May 22 plane crash in Karachi blamed pilots and air traffic control for the tragedy that killed 97 people.
The Express Tribune, citing sources, reported on Sunday that Kuwait Air hired seven Pakistani pilots and 56 engineers, while Qatar Airways, Oman Air, and Vietnam Airlines compiled lists of Pakistani pilots, engineers, and groundhandling personnel.
They said the employees whose names were on the lists would remain grounded until a report from the Pakistani authorities came in, he added.
The national airline has written to foreign missions and global regulators and security agencies, assuring them that it has grounded all 141 pilots suspected of being unfairly licensed, a PIA spokesman said on Saturday in the report.
The letter, signed by PIA chief executive Arshad Malik, was sent to all heads of foreign missions in Pakistan, as well as international aviation and security agencies, the spokesman said.
Pakistani Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar said last week that the government had asked various commercial airlines, flight clubs and charter companies to create a total of 262 pilots by the time their qualifications were completed.
The action was triggered by the preliminary report on the crash of the PIA plane in Karachi last month, which found that the pilots were not following standard procedures. Global security and transportation organizations expressed concern about the alleged "dubious" licenses and said they would investigate.
Malik had also informed the Ministry of Aviation about the flight safety measures.
The 262 pilots – 109 commercial and 153 aviation pilots – were hired on Friday until the investigation was completed. These included 141 from PIA, nine from Air Blue, 10 from Serene Airline and 17 from Shaheen Airlines that have closed, the report said.
The aviation minister said trying to ground the pilots would help address global concerns and show that the misconduct has been corrected. He added that five aviation officials were also suspended because they favored the suspected pilots.
Investigations into pilots' qualifications began after a crash landing in 2018, when it was determined that the test date on the pilot's license was a public holiday – indicating that the test was fake since there were no tests on that day could have taken place.
As a result, 16 PIA pilots were hired in early 2019.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requires pilots to pass all eight papers to fully qualify after at least 1,500 hours of commercial flight time. The minister said 28 of the pilots had already illegally earned an academic degree, the report added.
On May 22, the domestic flight from Lahore to Karachi in a residential area near the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi crashed.
The national airline's Airbus A320 had 91 passengers and an eight-member crew when it crashed into the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir a few minutes before it landed. A girl died on the floor after being burned.
Two passengers miraculously survived the crash.