Pakistan rejects EU agency's warning to flights

Country's airspace is "completely safe" for all commercial flights, says Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson

Tariq Abul Hasan
A plane photographed after it takes off. — Reuters/File
A plane photographed after it takes off. — Reuters/File

  • EASA has not informed Pakistan of any threat: CAA spokesperson.
  • AOOA Founder describes EASA's instructions as "irresponsible".
  • EASA does not mention specific threat into, out of or within Pakistan.

A day after the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued an advisory warning airlines to not fly below FL 260 altitude while flying over Lahore and Karachi, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) Sunday rejected its claims and said that the country's airspace is "completely safe" for all commercial flights.

The CAA spokesperson said: "EASA has not informed Pakistan of any threat to European airlines."

His remarks came in response to yesterday's EASA advisory that warned airlines of "violent non-state actor groups" in Pakistan that possessed anti-aviation weaponry.

"There is a continued possible threat to civil aviation resulting in a high risk to operation at altitudes below FL 260," the Sunday advisory read.

Meanwhile, the Aircraft Owners Operators Association (AOOA) also reacted strongly to this directive, demanding that it be withdrawn.

AOOA Founder Imran Aslam Khan described the instructions of EASA as "irresponsible" and said that different airlines fly to and from Pakistani airports every day.

"EASA should monitor the European airspace. After the Ukraine-Russia tension, the European airspace is not safe for planes, and many airlines have changed their routes," he said, lashing out at the European agency.

In its advisory yesterday, EASA told European airlines they should be careful while flying over Karachi and Lahore.

It warned that there is a risk of being hit by anti-aircraft guns and missiles, advising pilots to fly at 26,000 feet to avoid danger.

It further advised air operators to consider this and any other relevant information in their own risk assessments, alongside any available guidance or directions from their national authority as appropriate.

However, this is not the first time the agency issued such an advisory. A similar advisory was issued in November last year, which recommended that all operators exercise "extreme caution" when flying over the country and not flying below 24,000 feet.

Then and now, EASA has not referred to any specific threat of attack applying to flights into, out of or within Pakistan.

The safety agency, on its website, said that it's a neutral body that ensures confidence in safe air operations in Europe and worldwide by proposing and formulating rules, standards, and guidance; by certifying aircraft, parts, and equipment; and by approving and overseeing organisations in all aviation domains.