(Pooja Pal; Journalist): Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is going to file an appeal next week against the 6 months ban imposed by the European Union. For this, the airline has also sought the assistance of European and UK MPs of Pakistani origin. The PIA ban is expected to cost the exchequer 33 billion rupees (Pakistani rupees). Pakistani diplomats on the other hand are engaged in attempts to reverse the decision.

The decision was taken by the European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) after the grounding of 262 Pakistani pilots whose licenses were dubbed by the country’s aviation minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan as dubious. 

Following the move by EASA, the UK Civil Aviation Authority withdrew permission to operate flights to PIA from 3 of its airports – Birmingham, London Heathrow, and Manchester. The PIA was operating 23 flights per week to the UK, of which 9 were to London, 10 to Manchester, and 4 to Birmingham.

The Pakistani airline is already suffering a loss of 12 billion Pakistani rupees as it will not operate Haj flights this year. The suspension of flights for Umrah passengers has also affected its revenue.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi recently conversed with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and demanded the lifting of the ban. 

He made sure for the EU official that the steps being taken by the regime are targetted at ensuring the highest level of flight safety in PIA operations.

Meanwhile, MPs from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have written a letter to the President of the National Assembly, Asad Qaiser, demanding the formation of a cabinet committee for unconstitutional privatization of the PIA-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York. The letter, signed by 6 PML-N members on Saturday, stated that the privatization of the hotel was against the constitution, financially unsuitable, and a waste of public money.

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