ISLAMABADPIA - Pakistan International Airlines has announced that it would ground all of its regional turboprops by August 3, 2021, to mitigate safety concerns arising from maintenance breakdowns that caused a crash in 2016.

The airline faced two judicial cases commanding an ongoing legal inquiry into the December 7, 2016, accident in which all 47 persons on board died in a crash of an ATR42-500 during landing at the Islamabad Benazir Bhutto International airport. An investigation later unveiled that inappropriate maintenance caused a fracture in one of the propeller's blades.

Although all of the carrier's aircraft are subject to regular inspections by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) and adhere to all safety norms, PIA says the retirement of its turboprops would improve the airline's image.

The carrier currently operates five owned ATR42-500s and four ATR72-500s leased from ACIA Aero. Only three ATR42s and one ATR72 are currently active. The rest has been in long-term storage since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.