Pakistan International Airlines

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Pakistan International Airlines

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PIA Boeing 747-300 in a superseded colour scheme

Pakistan International Airlines (also known as PIA), is Pakistan's national and international airline. In Pakistan its initials are sometimes jocularly said to stand for "prayers in air".


Code Data

  • IATA Code: PK
  • ICAO Code: PIA
  • Callsign: Pakistan


PIA can trace its beginnings to the days when Pakistan still wasn't a nation. In 1946, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, also known as founder of Pakistan, realized the need of an airline network for the forming country. He called upon the help of an experienced industrialist, Mr. M.A. Ispahani.

On October 23 of 1946, Orient Airways was set up, registered in Calcutta. In February of 1947, three DC-3 airplanes were bought from a company in Texas, and in May of that year, the airline was granted a license to fly. Services were started in June, from Calcutta to Akyab and Rangoon. This was the first post war airline flight by an Indian registered airline company.

Two months after this service began, Pakistan as a nation was formed. Orient Airways began relief flights to the new nation, and soon after, it moved operations to Karachi, where it began the important route from Karachi to Dacca. In addition, their initial domestic route in Pakistan was established, from Karachi to Lahore to Peshawar, and from Karachi to Quetta to Lahore.

Due to increasing passenger demand, the airline increased its fleet before the end of the 1940s, and this caused financial trouble to the airline. The government of Pakistan, realizing the operation was failing economically, asked the airline to merge into a new, national airline that the government was planning on creating. Eventually, on March 11 of 1955, Orient Airways merged with the Government's proposed airline, becoming Pakistan International Airways.

That year also, the airline opened their first route, under the PIA name, from Karachi to London Heathrow Airport in London, United Kingdom, via Cairo International Airport in Cairo, Egypt and Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport in Fiumicino, Italy.


1950s and 1960s

In 1956 PIA ordered two Super Constellations and five Viscount planes.

In 1959, Nur Khan was named managing director of PIA, thus beginning what many in the airline industry call the golden years of PIA.

In March of 1960, PIA became the first Asian airline to enter the jet age when Boeing 707 service was introduced. In 1961, services were begun to JFK International Airport in New York, then Idlewild Airport. In 1962, orders were placed for Boeing 720's, Fokker F27's and Sikorsky helicopters. One of their 720's broke a record that year, when it flew from Karachi to London non-stop in under 7 hours.

1964 was another history making year for PIA when it became the first airline from a non-communist country to fly to the People's Republic of China. As the India-Pakistan war broke in 1965, PIA helped the Pakistani forces with logistics and transport. In 1966, the Viscounts were phased out, substituted by Tridents.

In 1967, PIA installed (West)Pakistan's first computer, an IBM model. (then east pakistan -now Bangladesh already had IBM computer in 1964---first in Pakistan.)


1970s and 1980s

The 1970s saw the resumption of transatlantic fights for the airline, and many new destinations. It applied in 1972 to operate to Libya, and a agreement was signed with Yugoslav airline JAT, also on that year. In 1973, McDonnell Douglas DC-10's arrived. 1974 saw the start of air freight service, as well as a cargo service to New York. In 1975, new uniforms were introduced for PIA stewardesses, and in 1976, leased Boeing 747's came into service, the first time the airline had such a type. In 1978, the airline bought their first 747 aircraft, which have since become a staple of the airline's fleet. 1978 also saw the airline provide help to Somali Airlines, Air Malta and Yemenia; and establish a hotel management service in the United Arab Emirates.

The 1980s began with the opening of a cargo center in Karachi. In 1981, PIA was named most efficient airline to the Haj operation, and a duty-free sales service was begun.

1982 saw the welcoming of Airbus A300 planes to the fleet, and the first C and D checks on the fleet were performed. In addition, Pakistan's first Direct Inward Dialing system in Pakistan was introduced by the airline. In 1984, domestic coach fare service at night was introduced. In 1985 the Pakistani Planetarium tourist attraction was inaugurated by PIA, and five Boeing 737s joined the fleet. A former PIA Boeing 707 now forms part of the Planetarium's exhibition. 1987 and 1988 saw the introduction of flights to Male and to Toronto/Lester B. Pearson International Airport, respectively.

In 1989, their first women pilots started to command passenger flights.



In 1992, flights started to Tashkent and in 1993, to Z�rich, Switzerland. In addition, PIA became a user of the Sabre, Galileo and Amadeus global distribution systems, or GDS.

Jakarta, Fujairah, Baky and Al-Ain were among the cities introduced to PIAs route network in 1994, and air safari flights started to be operated by the airline. 1995 saw the arrival of a 747 flight simulation system, and the purchase of a used Air France A300 plane.

In 1996, the airline leased Tupolev Tu-154 planes, and re-opened services to Beirut International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon.

In 1999 the airline eliminated all intermediate stops on flights to the United States, hoping to attract more North American passengers.








East Asia


Central Asia


South Asia


Southeast Asia


Southwest Asia




North America



The Pakistan International Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft (at March 2005):


External Links

  • Pakistan International Airlines
  • Pakistan International Airlines Fleet Detail
  • Pakistan International Airlines Passenger Opinions
  • History of PIA
  • Global PIATemplate:Airlistbox

de:Pakistan International Airlines fr:Pakistan International Airlines


  • Pakistan International 777-200LR Nonstop Pakistan to Canada - Luchtzak Aviation
  • Delhi lodges protest over new bunkers - Gulf Times
  • Pakistan and India agree to expand air service agreement - Daily Times
  • Airbus to close A300 and A310 production line - Flight International
  • India, Pakistan seek increased flight frequencies, more ... -
  • Indo-Pak talks on expansion of civil aviation links continue -
  • Al-Qaeda Employs Assassination Strategy in Karachi - Global Terrorism Analysis
  • Cathay-PIA deal being probed: Pakistan - Islamic Republic News Agency
  • PIA suffers deficit of Rs 543m in 4th quarter of 2005 - Online - International News Network
  • Indian Airlines, Punjab Sind Bank in semis - Rediff
  • ... more news

Related articles

Image:Wikipedia-small.png Wikipedia article about Pakistan International Airlines (search). This article uses material from that article.

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