Pakistan national airline fires pilots with fake school degrees

FLAG CARRIER. In this file photo, passengers for a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight line up to board a plane for Islamabad in Chitral on November 1, 2015. A similar type of plane was involved in the December 7, 2016 crash. File Photo Farooq Naeem/AFP

FLAG CARRIER. In this file photo, passengers for a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight line up to board a plane for Islamabad in Chitral on November 1, 2015. A similar type of plane was involved in the December 7, 2016 crash.

File Photo Farooq Naeem/AFP

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan's national flag carrier has fired 50 staffers including 3 pilots for holding fake high school degrees, an airline official said Monday, December 31, in the latest embarrassing mishap to hit the troubled airline.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), which was considered a global leader in commercial aviation until the 1970s, has been plagued by myriad controversies  in recent years and saddled by billions of dollars in debt.

"The airline has dismissed from service its 50 staffers including three pilots for holding fake high school degrees," PIA's spokesman Mashood Tajwar told AFP.

He said at least six additional pilots had been fired recently on the same grounds.

The airline has cancelled the pilots' licenses, Tajwar added. He did not specify what the other PIA staff who were sacked did for the airline. (READ: 'Stressed, weeping' pilot caused deadly Nepal plane crash – inquiry)

PIA was widely mocked in 2016 for sacrificing a goat next to a turboprop ATR plane to ward off bad luck, weeks after one of its planes crashed killing 47 people in one of Pakistan's worst air disasters.

Last year it had to apologise after forgetting two corpses due to be transferred to Pakistan from New York.

And in 2013 one of its pilots was jailed in Britain for being drunk before he was due to fly from Leeds to Islamabad with 156 people on board.

PIA employees have also been periodically investigated for drug-smuggling, especially after drugs were seized from a Dubai-bound flight in 2016.– Rappler.com