In an attempt to use aging aircraft for Hajj operations beginning August, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) management has sought a nod from the authorities to waive all safety regulations for its two-decades-old planes grounded over six months ago, compromising the safety of thousands of passengers.
A recent letter from the PIA chief executive officer has appeared in various newspapers and online news media outlets to the federal secretary for aviation division admitted that its three aging Airbus A310 and 300 aircraft had already spent their lives and had been grounded in December 2016, but at the same time, ‘requested’ to use them for Hajj operations because replacements for these planes were not available with the national carrier.
To take this risky initiative, the PIA CEO has proposed exemptions from all safety checks for the aging aircraft and sought the federal government’s help to pursue and persuade Saudi authorities who don’t allow older fleet operations and have stringent aviation requirements.
“A fresh tender for up to two wide body aircraft has been issued but the replacement aircraft may not be available with PIA,” the letter argues as a reason to use the out-dated planes.
To deal with the problem, the PIA chief’s letter suggests “a one-time relaxation in Aviation Policy 2015 allowing operation of aircraft older than 20 years for maximum six months beyond threshold of March 2017.”
He also suggested that the aircraft be exempted from technical and safety checks and permission be obtained from Saudi Arabia aviation authorities.