Airlines around the world are taking steps to suspend Pakistani pilots, following this week’s admission that up to a third of the country’s commercial aviators have fake licenses.

Vietnam among first countries to ground Pakistani pilots

Vietnam has moved quickly after Pakistan’s aviation minister admitted this week that many of his country’s pilots held dubious licenses, and that pilots in Pakistan were often appointed for political reasons, rather than on merit.

Pakistan believes that as many as 262 out of 860 pilots paid others to sit exams and help them get a licence to fly.

According to local media reports, Vietnam has now suspended at least 20 Pakistani pilots, all of whom had acquired their licenses in their home country.

They were working for various airlines in Vietnam and will be allowed to fly again, if it can be determined that they hold a valid licence.

An interim accident report says pilot error is the cause of a PIA crash in Karachi last month. Photo credit: Shadman Samee/ Wikpedia

Pakistan’s allies in the Gulf also ‘planning suspensions’

In a sign that the scandal will impact airlines around the world, Kuwait Airlines is said to have suspended its seven pilots of Pakistani origin (reports India’s Economic Times).

Apparently confirming that news, Gul Bukhari, a UK-based journalist tweeted to say:

“Kuwait Airways has grounded all 7 Pakistani pilots and suspended 56 engineers and ground handling staff in the backdrop of fake license issue. Similar reports from Qatar, Oman, Emirates and Vietnam.”

The Economic Times also suggests that Pakistan’s traditional allies in the Gulf, including Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the UAE, were also planning to take similar action - though it provided no further details.

Other airlines in the Gulf are said to be planning the suspension of Pakistani pilots

Summing up

A number of countries, including Vietnam, appear to be moving quickly following this week’s shocking news that large numbers of Pakistani pilots hold fake licenses.

State-run Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has already removed 150 of its own pilots, but the big question now is whether there will be similar announcements from the global giants of aviation, like Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad.

What do you make of the Pakistani pilot scandal?