Pakistani Airline Drops Fokker Planes

A state-run airline will no longer use Fokker planes for passenger flights after one of the aging aircraft crashed in eastern Pakistan, killing all 45 people aboard, an official said Wednesday.

The six turboprop-driven Fokkers in the Pakistan International Airlines fleet mostly fly less-busy domestic routes. A senior government official told The Associated Press that the airline will now use C-130 transport planes and Boeing-737s on those routes.

The decision was made at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday chaired by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, the official said on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to make media comments.

A 27-year-old PIA Fokker F-27 went down Monday soon after takeoff from Multan on a flight to the eastern city of Lahore, exploding in flames on the outskirts of Multan. All 41 passengers and four crew members were killed.

Officials have yet to determine the cause, but a fire was reportedly spotted on one of the plane's engines before it crashed.

The crash has prompted criticism in Pakistan from pilots and opposition politicians, claiming the decades-old planes should be replaced, although PIA executives maintained they were safe.

The government official said the planes were still airworthy and the decision to stop using them for passenger flights was made to allay people's safety fears.

PIA officials were not immediately available for comment.

There have been several crashes involving Fokker planes in Pakistan in recent decades. In August 1989, a PIA Fokker with 54 people onboard went down in Pakistan's Himalayan north on a domestic flight. The plane's wreckage was never found.

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