ISLAMABAD: A pilot who captained an airplane from Canada to the country has tested positive for coronavirus, the Pakistan Airlines Pilots’ Association (PALPA) confirmed on Sunday, lamenting how its advice for precautionary measures went unheeded.
In its statement earlier today, the PALPA said the pilot had flown an airplane from Canada to Pakistan and had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after landing in the country.
The viral disease has so far infected over 5,100 people and killed nearly 90 in Pakistan.
Police took away the pilot from the hotel in a manner as if he was arrested for some crime, the captains’ association said. It added that it had earlier advised taking precautionary measures to prevent such an untoward case from occurring in the first place but its suggestion was unfortunately ignored.
On April 7, the PIA had confirmed in a statement that six of its workers — including a pilot, two cabin crew members, and an aircraft technician — had contracted the virus but did not say how and when this occurred. A spokesperson had insisted that all pilots and crew members were performing duties in PPE.
The PALPA and the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have been at loggerheads over pilots’ safety as well as failure to adhere to protocol, whereas the national carrier had earlier alleged that the Sindh health department’s officials insisted on forcefully quarantining the pilots despite instructions.
A report in The News had stated that the dispute arose after the PIA flight crew was detained in Karachi, with the PALPA claiming that safety had been compromised and that the COVID-19-related SOPs were ignored during the recent “humanitarian flights”.
PALPA President Captain Chaudhry Salman had also claimed that the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) failed to ensure preset rules and regulations and that the negligence was a disaster for the airline. He had further alleged that the PIA was also violating its own rules by compelling pilots to perform duties for over 24 hours.
Insiders had revealed earlier this week that the pilots’ association had approached the Prime Minister House — which reportedly told it to consult with the PIA chief operating officer — and Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, who advised the association to talk to the civil aviation secretary.
Aviation Secretary Hassan Nasir Jamy had later assured representatives of the pilots’ body and PIA of full support, as well as readiness towards taking measures to ensure aircrew’s safety, after he was apprised of the PALPA’s “apprehensions pertaining to the safety measures being taken regarding airline operations in the wake of COVID-19”.
It had been recognised during the meeting that the airlines were responsible to provide appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to the cockpit and cabin crew “with immediate effect”, that flights would only operate “upon satisfaction of the captain”, and that the airlines would “not be held responsible”.