After Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) hit rock bottom when the European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) temporarily suspended PIA’s authorisation to operate to the EU member states, the aviation authorities and the government are now set to increase damage control to ensure the suspension is reversed. Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar has announced that Pakistan will appeal against the restrictions of EASA, and expressed confidence that PIA flight will resume well before the six-month limit of the ban.

The aviation minister listed some of the initiatives that the aviation authorities were taking to mitigate the damage. Regarding the dubious credentials of the pilots, Sarwar said that 28 pilots had been sacked, while a total of 219 pilots had been grounded and 191 suspended. He also announced insurance for the family members of the passengers of the tragic A-320 PIA aircraft crash in Karachi, and concessions for passengers of flight operations during the pandemic.

Yet these measures and reassurances seem superficial and do not address the main contentions that the EASA has with the PIA. EASA’s suspension came about because of the aviation minister’s own revelation that more than 260 licences of pilots issued by Pakistani authorities are fraudulent. Now, this claim is being undermined by the minister and CAA, making the government’s approach towards this ambiguous. Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) Director General has clarified that all the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) and Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) issued by the PCAA are genuine and validly issued, yet at the same time has admitted there were discrepancies pertaining to the computer-based examination.

If the government is serious about restoring PIA’s reputation, it needs to decide what narrative it wants to adopt. Merely suspending pilots’ licenses will not do—this is more than just a little hiccup. The regulatory framework has to be improved and the four-hour skill test and eight papers for the license have to be overhauled and recreated. The reforms taken by the government of Pakistan should be visible and there should be a hack-proof system in place or else the ban won’t be lifted.