Govt Dumbfounded as People Start Buying Foreign Airline Tickets Using VPN

DG Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Khaqan Murtaza, disclosed in the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation that passengers are buying tickets for foreign airlines from remote locations using VPN or other means, and it costs relatively less than tickets purchased in Pakistan.

The Senate Standing Committee on Aviation meeting was held at the Parliament House on Thursday, chaired by Senator Hidayatullah.

The CAA briefed the Senate Committee on the reasons for the decline of foreign airlines’ routes. DG CAA Khaqan Murtaza said that a total of 31 international airlines have applied for operations to and from Pakistan, with a total of 576 weekly frequencies from all international airports in Pakistan, and there has been no substantial decline in the upcoming Summer Schedule.

The Committee inquired as to why foreign airlines are not permitting passengers to purchase tickets in rupees. According to Khaqan Murtaza, passengers are purchasing foreign airline tickets from remote locations via VPN or other methods at a lower cost than tickets bought in Pakistan. The Committee directed the CAA to submit a detailed report on the matter at the next meeting.

The committee also discussed the cancellation of the licenses of PIA pilots. The committee was briefed that 141 pilot licenses were declared as suspected by the PCAA, with 18 pilots who were not PIA employees, 18 pilots who were terminated from service upon suspension/cancellation of the license by PCAA, 16 who were deceased and separated, 2 pilots who are on stay order whose decision is pending due to the same, and the remaining 87 who were cleared by PCAA afterward.

DG Civil Aviation apprised that the alleged pilot was involved in irregularities and obtained the APTL licenses by unfair means. Senator Saleem Mandviwalla stated that the pilots have the initial CPL license, and the examination can be conducted for the ATPL license. The chairman committee directed to constitute a subcommittee to probe the matter in detail.

The matter related to PIA employees appointed on fake degrees was also taken up. The CEO of PIA said that the individuals charged with fake degrees have been penalized with termination. However, the Senate Special Committee on affected employees restored the appointment of the charged employees.

Senator Hidayatullah stated that the direction of the Supreme Court is crystal clear in this regard and should be strictly followed. He said that the employees appointed on fake degrees should not be re-incorporated at any cost.

In addition to that, Senator Saleem Mandviwalla also pointed out that a huge number of pilots are leaving the country due to a significant cut in their pay in the form of heavy taxes. The CEO of PIA apprised that in the recent period, 15 pilots have left the country, and a petition relating to the hiring of a young workforce for PIA has been filed in the Supreme Court, which has not been entertained yet.

The chairman committee commented that the future of young pilots is at stake and requested Senator Saleem Mandviwalla to take up the matter with the FBR in the Senate Finance Committee.

Moreover, the Senate body deliberated on the matter of two Airbus A320S worth around 20 billion USD, grounded in Indonesia for the last year. Amir Hayat, CEO of PIA, informed that redelivery work on both aircraft has been completed by around 82 and 92 percent, and the aircraft will arrive in Pakistan by the end of June.

Furthermore, the Committee was also briefed about the properties leased to different companies by CAA. Khaqan Murtaza stated that a significant number of properties have been leased to PIA at a nominal cost, and the leased agreement of said properties has not been revisited for a long time. According to recent figures, PIA owes.

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