PIA - Pakistan International Airlines (PK, Islamabad Quaid-e-Azam Int'l) has opted not to file a further appeal against the European Aviation Safety Agency’s suspension of the beleaguered carrier’s approval to operate services to the European Union for a six-month period.

A two-month deadline for filing an appeal expired at the end of August. As previously reported, two weeks ago the agency rejected an earlier appeal by PIA to resume flights to the bloc.

Instead of further contesting the ban, which for now lasts until December 31, the airline has decided to prepare for a visit of the International Air Transport Association’s Operational Safety Audit to Pakistan, scheduled for September 7, to assess its operational management and control systems, sources told the newspaper Dawn.

The safety audit is carried out every two years. The IATA team is expected to stay for five days, during which PIA's management believes it will be able to convince them of the validity of the flag carrier's safety measures.

IATA itself expressed concern in late June, when news broke about the prevalence of fake pilot licences in the country, about the “serious lapse in the licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator,” the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority.

EASA has reportedly asked the Pakistani authorities to clarify 11 points, the Safety Management System (SMS) chief among them, to prevent the flight ban from being extended into 2021.

Due to the ban, PIA has decided to temporarily withdraw its staff from European cities, specifically from Barcelona, Copenhagen, Milan, and Oslo, local media reported on September 1. Orders for removing the staff, which will reduce costs for the airline, will be issued this week.

In related news, PIA sacked 74 more employees on various charges during August, including submitting fake or tampered degrees, taking bribes, sabotaging company property, and smuggling narcotics, Dawn reported on September 2 citing a PIA spokesman. None of those dismissed were pilots.

But the management said in a letter to staff that it had also awarded appreciation letters to 22 employees for showing dedication to their work.