Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) confirmed that it has banned from the European Union on Tuesday for six months after the government-owned flight company grounded nearly 150 of its pilots (roughly 1 third) for having false or questionable licences.

According to company spokesman Abdullah Khan speaking to AFP, European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) told  that “EASA has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorisation to operate to the EU member states for a period of 6 months effective July 1, 2020 with the right to appeal against this decision", Khan said.

He further said that the safety regulators informed PIA "it is still not sure" if all the remaining pilots are appropriately qualified, "and thus they have lost their confidence" in the airline.

The airline acknowledged the criticisms last week and announced that the pilots holding false certification were considered unfit to fly.

​PIA has only been operating international flights at limited capacity for months amid the coronavirus pandemic and a sharp drop in travel.

Domestic flights resumed in May but were followed by a crash near Jinnah International Airport which killed 98 people, later identified as pilot error.