Six-star Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been downgraded to one star by after the recent revelation of 150 fake pilot licences.

The European Union (EU) has banned the airline from member states — costing one star –, while has stripped the airline of three stars for the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) besides one star for the ICAO country audit.

The rating downgrade to the lowest safety standards could further dent PIA’s business because customers will avoid travelling through it while other countries may close their airports for Pakistan’s national carrier.

RELATED STORIES Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas said, “Clearly there needs to be an investigation into possible bribery and falsifying related to the pilot licences. This is deeply disturbing as the IOSA audit and ICAO country audit should pick this up.”

In a statement, IATA said, “We are following reports from Pakistan regarding fake pilot licences, which are concerning and represent a serious lapse in the licensing and safety oversight by the aviation regulator. We are trying to obtain more information on the matter.”

Earlier, PIA sacked 150 pilots over cheating on their exams in the wake of the Karachi crash of an A320 that killed 98 people in May.

The sacking had come in the wake of the statement by Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan that 262 out of 860 Pakistani pilots had “fake” licences through bribing other qualified pilots to take the exams.