The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has banned PIA - Pakistan International Airlines (PK, Islamabad Quaid-e-Azam Int'l) and Vision Air International (Pakistan) (VIS, Karachi Int'l) from the bloc's airspace effective July 1 due to recent allegations that a significant number of Pakistani pilots could be holding fake licences, Reuters has reported.

EASA confirmed it had suspended the two carrier's Third Country Operator (TCO) certificates for six months, effective July 1. However, in practice, it will only come into force on July 3, after a short grace period to allow the airlines to operate already planned services.

PIA confirmed the suspension through its Twitter and added that it was in touch with EASA to "allay their concerns" in the hope of a quick resolving the issue.

The suspension effectively leaves Pakistan with no flag carriers serving EASA states since no other carrier holds a valid TCO. In contrast to the EU safety blacklist, the suspension of the TCO does not prevent affected airlines from overflying EASA countries.

The United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which currently has a transitory status at EASA after leaving the EU at the end of January 2020, confirmed that it would also apply the ban.

In late June, Pakistan’s aviation minister presented before the parliament a preliminary inquiry into the crash of a PIA A320-200 in Karachi Int'l on May 22, which labelled as "dubious", the legality of credentials of almost a third of all pilots trained in Pakistan. Subsequently, PIA suspended 141 out of its 434 pilots after a rapid internal audit.