There seems to be no end to the trials and tribulations of the scandals regarding Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). From avoidable crashes, to the enormously incriminating and embarrassing question of fake and dubious licenses of pilots, and most recently the issue of the Sialkot PIA office accommodating old purchased tickets, irreversible losses were a predictable result, not just on the public exchequer but also on PIA’s, and the country’s international reputation. The withdrawal of PIA permits from European and United Kingdom civil aviation agencies were just an inevitable result of the continuous mishaps of a long-suffering, inefficient flag carrier.

The damage that these international bans inflict should not be underestimated. Travel bans tend to have a domino effect—right after the European Union’s aviation safety agency announced that Pakistan’s national airline would not be allowed to fly in Europe for six months, the UK followed. The likelihood that the rest of the world may also follow the EU and UK’s example is dangerously high, and it is unfortunate that they would not be entirely wrong to do so.

Reputation aside, the very real and very damaging financial aspects of this ban will not only be felt over the next six months, they will be for years to come because other carriers will occupy this vacuum left behind. It would not be farfetched to say that the situation has truly hit rock bottom now, and there does not seem to be any tangible path for the aviation organisation to take flight from this mess.

If the situation was grim before, it looks almost unsalvageable now. The only solution left appears to be privatisation but even that needs to be accompanied with thorough criminal investigations and an overhaul of the systematic damage that exists in the institution.