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The airline was registered in Calcutta, British India on 23 October 1946. It was established on the behest of Muhammad Ali Jinnah by Muslim business families. The initial investment was provided by the Ispahani, Adamjee, and the Arag group. Mirza Ahmad Ispahani, being its first Chairman, and Air Vice Marshal O.K. Carter, the General Manager, obtained an operating licence on May 1947. Four Douglas DC-3s were obtained from Tempo, Texas in February 1947 and operations first started on 4 June 1947. The designated route was Kolkata-Sittwe (then known as Akyab)-Yangon (Myanmar), which also happened to be the first post-war international operation to be flown by an airline registered in India. Two months after Orient Airways' operational beginnings, Pakistan was created on 14 August 1947.
Orient Airways, along with the help of some BOAC aircraft which had been chartered by the Government of Pakistan, started relief operations and transportation of the population between Delhi and Karachi, the capitals of India a Pakistan, respectively. Later, Orient Airways transferred its base to Pakistan and established the vital link between Karachi and Dhaka (Dacca), the two capitals of the two wings of Pakistan. With a skeleton fleet of just two DC-3s, three crew and twelve mechanics, Orient Airways re-launched its scheduled operations in a fairy-tale fashion. The initial routes were Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar, Karachi-Quetta-Lahore, Faisalabad and Karachi-Delhi-Kolkata-Dhaka. By the end of 1949, Orient Airways had acquired 10 DC-3s and 3 Convair 240s which it operated on these routes. In 1950, it had become increasingly apparent that additional capacity would have to be inducted in order to cater to the growing needs of the sub-continent.
On 11 March 1955, the government of Pakistan merged Orient Airways with other airlines to form Pakistan International Airlines.
Orient Airways aircraft had a green strip with the word "Orient Airways" or "Orient Skyliner". The tail was marked with the flag of Pakistan after the parition of India.
- Formation of Muslim-owned economic institutions: 1940-1947[dead link]
- "Pakistani International Airlines: About PIA - History". Retrieved March 2014.
- "Image Detail for - http://www.edcoatescollection.com/ac5/ROW%20Asia/AP-AEF.jpg". Images.search.yahoo.com. Retrieved 4 March 2012.