Pakistan International Airlines’ Australia Flights Not Yet Approved

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is keen to start flights to Australia – so keen the airline is in route launch mode before they’ve been granted permission to fly. Multiple media outlets are reporting flights between Lahore (LHE) and Sydney (SYD) will start in April, but PIA will need an air operator’s certificate (AOC) to fly passengers in Australia before that happens.

PIA application to fly received but not yet granted

This week, PIA’s General Manager of Corporate Communications Abdullah Hafeez told Australia’s SBS Radio that the airline has applied to operate passenger flights to Australia. Australia’s airline safety regular, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), confirmed to Simple Flying an application was received from PIA on February 21 for a foreign air transport air operators certificate.


“The application and subsequent safety assessment will be managed through the normal process applied to Foreign AOC holders seeking to conduct commercial air transport into/out of Australian territory,a CASA spokesperson said.

In the meantime, PIA has told CASA it will apply to operate a one-off flight to Sydney in April. That flight is coming up in PIA’s April schedule but is not yet available for sale. PIA has timetabled PK9808 to depart LHE on a Friday evening for a lunchtime arrival in SYD the next day. The return flight, PK9809, departs SYD on Sunday evening for an early morning arrival in LHE.


Application for April flights yet to arrive at CASA

The problem is that many PIA watchers are taking these flights as a done deal – when that’s not the case. Pakistan International Airlines has several obstacles to deal with before CASA green lights any flights in April. To start with, they need to lodge that non-scheduled flight application.

“PIA has indicated it will apply to operate a non-scheduled flight to Sydney International Airport in April, and we will assess the airline’s application when it is received,” a CASA spokesperson told Simple Flying on Tuesday. The safety regular clarifies a non-scheduled flight permission is a one-off approval where each proposed operation is subject to a safety assessment that specifically examines the foreign operator’s assigned flight crew and airworthiness aspects of the particular aircraft being utilized.

“CASA has discretion on the number of non-scheduled flight permissions that may be issued to any foreign operator. PIA will also require approvals from the Department of Infrastructure and the Department of Home Affairs before it can operate a non-scheduled flight to Australia. “


The crash of a PIA A320 in Karachi in 2020 won’t help the airline’s efforts to fly into Australia. Photo: Getty Images

PIA greenlight to fly not guaranteed

Given it’s a matter of weeks until the presumed April flight, getting them off the ground may be a tall order. The Karachi-based airline has flown to Australia before. In 2020, PIA operated a repatriation flight between Melbourne and Lahore. But PIA remains a rare visitor to Australia. This surprises some, given the substantial Pakistani diaspora in Australia.

However, the scandal and accident plagued airline has a big reputation to live down. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) banned Pakistan International Airlines in 2020 after a scandal concerning fraudulent pilots’ licenses. The FAA also takes a dim view of the airline. While EASA and FAA rulings don’t dictate CASA decisions, it’s fair to say they are highly influential.

A 2020 crash of a PIA Airbus A320 on approach at Karachi, which killed 98 people, won’t help PIA’s application to fly to Australia. While CASA won’t necessarily knock PIA’s application back, you could bet the house the safety regulator will go over the airline’s recent performance with a fine-tooth comb – making the reports of an April start date for any PIA flights to Sydney wildly optimistic.

As for those proposed PIA scheduled passenger flights, CASA says it is still reviewing the application and indicates a decision may take a while.

“The application is subject to a detailed safety assessment, and we are unable to say when the process will be completed,” CASA’s spokesperson added.

Rossiya SSJ100

Russia Sees Huge Increase In Sukhoi SSJ100 Flights

Read Next

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.