Turkish Airlines approved a codeshare agreement with Pakistan International Airlines on Sunday. Pakistan’s national airline has selected Istanbul as the most urgent destination for the resumption of its flight operations, as the city will be the gateway for Pakistan International, which has been banned by the United Kingdom and Europe due to its recent fraudulent pilot license scandal.
Under the expanded agreement, Pakistan passengers will be able to travel onboard Turkish Airlines aircraft to Birmingham, U.K.; London; Milan, Italy; Barcelona; Copenhagen, Denmark and Oslo, Norway via Istanbul Airport in addition to the destinations covered by the existing agreement.
The flag carrier of Turkey affirmed the agreement following Pakistan Airlines’ chief executive officer Air Marshal Arshad’s plea for approval from Turkish authorities to operate flights to airports in Istanbul.
In a letter to Pakistani Ambassador to Turkey M. Syrus Sajjad Qazi, the airline’s CEO said that the airline urgently had to get authorization from Turkish authorities to operate flights, which the airline planned to resume in early August.
Turkish Airlines and Pakistan International Airlines have a long-lasting collaboration within the scope of codeshare and special prorate agreements. Arshad also wrote a letter on July 2 to Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Eksi in a bid to enhance the airline companies’ existing codeshare collaboration.
“Considering the networks of both airlines, we see that the volume and utilization of our agreements have been lower than our expectations. I believe that our cooperation could be developed to reach a more satisfying level with the addition of your proposed Birmingham, London, Milan, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Oslo points on our codeshare subject to related Civil Aviation Authorities` beyond codeshare approvals,” said Turkish Airlines CEO in a response letter on July 24.
The Turkish CEO also proposed to upgrade their codeshare from unilateral to a bilateral arrangement once the volume and utilization of their agreements reach a level Turkish Airlines deems as “satisfactory.”
Pakistan International Airlines has recently signed a codeshare agreement with Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines, as well. However, the flight suspensions due to novel coronavirus pandemic hampered the implementation of the agreement.
Pakistan’s CEO requested authorities at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, the main hub of Pegasus Airlines, to grant the airline approval to commence scheduled flights immediately. He also sought help from the ambassador related to the matter. Under the agreement with Pegasus, Pakistan International Airlines passengers will be able travel to 25 destinations in Europe and the U.K. via Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport.
PIA Set to Appeal EASA Flight Ban
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ authorization to operate in the EU and the U.S. The move came after 262 Pakistani pilots had been grounded following Pakistan’s minister of aviation’s sensational statement labeling their flight licenses as “dubious.”
However, this was not the first time that the airline was banned by EASA to operate flights to and from EU countries. The EASA had suspended operations of some of the airline’s aircraft from 2007 to 2009 due to the safety standards.
According to Pakistan’s aviation minister, in 2019, the EASA had given Pakistan International Airlines six measures to which it must comply by June 30. “Five of its observations have been addressed, and the sixth one on safety standards has yet to be complied with,” said the minister recently.
According to the aviation minister, the flight ban would remain in force until late August, but the government would appeal the EASA ban by the end of July. Pakistani officials hope that flights will resume before the end of this year. However, it is doubtful that the incumbent airline executive team and Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority officials will be able to make the necessary reforms in terms of safety and credibility in two months.