Pakistan International Airlines

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Pakistan International Airlines
PIA Official Logo 2014.png
  • 1946 (as Orient Airways)
  • January 10, 1955 (as Pakistan International Airlines Corporation - PIAC) [1]
Secondary hubs
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program PIA Awards Plus+
Airport lounge PIA Business Plus Lounge
  • Skyrooms (Private) Limited
  • PIA Investments Limited
Fleet size 27
Destinations 66 incl.cargo
Company slogan

"Great People to Fly With"

با کمال لوگ - لاجواب پرواز
Parent company Aviation Division (Government of Pakistan)[2]
Headquarters Jinnah International Airport
Karachi, Pakistan
Key people
Revenue Increase Rs 53.34 billion PKR (Half Yearly Report 2014)[5]
Net income Increase Rs.339 million (Half Yearly Report 2014)[6]

Pakistan International Airlines (Urdu: پاکستان انٹرنیشنل ایئر لائنز‎) commonly known as PIA or Pakistan International is the national flag carrier airline of Pakistan. It operates scheduled services to 23 domestic destinations and 30 international destinations in 27 countries across Asia, Europe and North America.[7] Its main hubs are Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad/Rawalpindi. Secondary hubs include Peshawar, Faisalabad, Quetta, Sialkot and Multan.

PIA has a long history of milestones in aviation, such as being the first Asian airline to operate a jet aircraft and Boeing 737 aircraft;.[8] It today remains by far Pakistan's largest airline with a fleet of more than 25 airplanes and at least 10 more on order.[9][10] Furthermore, PIA was the launch customer to operate the Boeing 777-200LR model. PIA is currently going through a procedure of privatisation to shift management from government to private sector.[11] It employed nearly 19,000 people as of July 2014.[12]



Pakistan International Airlines can trace its origins to the days when Pakistan had not yet gained independence from the British Raj. In 1946, the country's founder Muhammed Ali Jinnah realized the need for a flag carrier for the prospective country and requested financial help from a wealthy businessman Mirza Ahmad Ispahani and Adamjee Haji Dawood for this purpose. Around that time, a new airline 'Orient Airways', was registered in Calcutta on 23 October 1946. In February 1947, the airline bought three DC-3 airplanes from a company in Texas and obtained a license to fly in May of the same year. The airline started its operations in June, offering services from Kolkata to Sittwe and Yangon. On 14 August 1947, Pakistan came into being and Orient Airways started relief operations for the new country. It was the first and only Muslim owned airline in India and flew from 1947 to 1955.

PIA L1049C Super Constellation at London (Heathrow) Airport in 1955
A Convair CV-240 in the 1950s at Karachi airport
Pakistan International Boeing 720-040B at London (Heathrow) Airport after arriving from Karachi in June 1962
A Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 707 photographed in Germany, 1961


On 7 June 1954, Orient Airways started its operations by offering flight services between East and West Pakistan, with service from Karachi to Dhaka. In addition, the airline also introduced two new domestic routes, i.e., Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar and Karachi-Quetta-Lahore. However, due to sustained losses being suffered by the airline, the Government of Pakistan proposed that Orient Airways merge with a new national airline. On 11 March 1955, Orient Airways merged with the government's proposed airline, becoming Pakistan International Airlines Corporation. The newly formed airline not just offered services on its domestic routes but also inaugurated its first international route, Karachi-London Heathrow Airport[13] via Cairo and Rome, using 4 newly acquired Lockheed L-1049C Super Constellations. The airline continued using DC-3s on domestic routes in Pakistan. In May 1956, PIA ordered 2 Super Lockheed Constellations of the latest L-1049H type and 5 Vickers Viscount 815.


The appointment of Air Marshal Nur Khan as the Managing Director of PIA in 1959 heralded an era of great successes for PIA. In March 1960, PIA wet-leased a Boeing 707 from Pan American airlines, thereby becoming the first Asian airline to induct a jet-aircraft in its fleet.[14] With the newly acquired aircraft, the airline introduced its first trans-Atlantic route Karachi-New York Idlewild via London in 1961. In 1962, it expanded its fleet by placing orders for Boeing 720s, Fokker F27s, and Sikorsky helicopters. In the same year, one of Boeing 720s flown by Captain Abdullah Baig flying from London to Karachi made a world record for the Speed over a commercial airline service for powered landplanes of 938.78 km/h, a record which still holds to this day.[15]

From 1962 to 1966, PIA operated its Sikorsky S-61 helicopters for services within East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh).[16] These were removed in 1966 and a reduced network of eight cities was served by Fokker F27 aircraft.[16] Upon the establishment of ties between Pakistan Government and People's Republic of China, PIA started flying to Beijing in 1964, becoming the first airline of a non-communist country flying to the People's Republic of China.[14] At the outbreak of Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Pakistani Armed Forces seek PIA's services for logistics and transport purposes. The Viscounts were phased out in 1966 and were replaced by 4 Hawker Siddeley Tridents.


The 70s decade was marked by resumption of transatlantic flights, introduction of new destinations, appointment of Nur Khan as its executive for the second term, and the beginning of financially successful period for the airline. When the political situation in East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh) started deteriorating in early 70s, the Pakistan Army once again used PIA's services to airlift soldiers and ammunition to East Pakistan.[citation needed] Most flights had to detour to Sri Lanka during trips between West Pakistan and East Pakistan. With the establishment of cordial ties between the Libyan and Pakistani governments in early 70s, PIA added a new international route, Tripoli, to its map in 1972. It also signed an agreement with Yugoslav airline JAT. PIA acquired McDonnell Douglas DC-10s in 1973 and used those planes to replace Boeing 707-300s. In 1974, PIA launched Pakistan International Cargo, offering air freight and cargo services. In 1975, PIA introduced new uniforms for air hostesses which were chosen through an open competition, with the winning entry designed by Sir Hardy Amies, the designer of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The later half of the decade witnessed further expansion of PIA's fleet with the introduction of Boeing 747s through either leased or purchased aircraft. During this decade, airline gained considerable popularity and was regarded as Asia's best airline.[17] For the first time since its inauguration, PIA started providing technical and administrative assistance or leased aircraft to foreign airlines including Somali Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Air Malta and Yemenia. A subsidiary of PIA also started providing hotel management services in United Arab Emirates towards the end of the decade.


PIA 1980's legacy tail which became an identity for the airline.

The 1980s decade began with the opening of a cargo handling centre at Karachi airport, duty-free shops, the first C and D safety checks on its entire fleet, as well as the introduction of airline's first Airbus A300B4-203 aircraft. In 1984, the airline introduced Night-Coach service as a low-cost alternative to day-time domestic flights. In the following years, PIA Planetarium was inaugurated in Karachi which was followed by planetariums in Lahore and Peshawar. These planetariums featured retired PIA aircraft on display for educational or observational purposes. Two more retired Boeing 720B airplanes were donated to the planetariums in Karachi and Lahore later on. Also in 1985, five new Boeing 737-300s airplanes were introduced in PIA's fleet, making PIA the first Asian airline with such diverse aircraft fleet. In late 1987 and early 1988, services to Malé and Toronto were introduced. In 1989, Shukria Khanam became the first woman pilot to obtain a license to fly a commercial passenger plane but never joined PIA as a pilot. A year later, First Officer Maliha Sami became the first female pilot of PIA when she took off on Karachi-Panjgur-Turbat-Gwadar route.

In the mid-1980s, PIA also helped establish Emirates by leasing two of its airplanes - Airbus A300 and Boeing 737 - as well as providing technical and administrative assistance to the new carrier.


A Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A300 at Fiumicino Airport in 1991.

In June 1991, Airbus delivered the first of six Airbus A310-300 aircraft that PIA had ordered. AVM Farooq became the 1st MD of Shaheen Air line and Shaheen Air International as well as Shaheen Cargo and MD Shaheen Air Port services Lahore and remained so until 1993 . With the new airplanes, the airline introduced flights to Tashkent in 1992 and to Zürich in 1993. March 1993 AVM Farooq Umar became MD PIA and also open skies from Karachi to Dubai were declared and 12 private air lines were allowed to operate domestically in Pakistan. Both steps came simultaneously and put great pressure on PIA's financial performance. Farooq Umar to meet the challenge, fought the battle of open skies and opened up 6 new routes to the Persian Gulf and CIS countries along with tourists attraction air safari. He also made major changes in routes and schedules and started non stop flights from Lahore and Islamabad to JFK and Canada along with many other to boost up PIA revenues while taking great care to thwart the menace of inadmissible passengers lurking the western world successfully. PIA added Jakarta, Fujairah, Baku and Al-Ain to its destinations in 1994. In addition, PIA became a client of three different flight-reservation systems, namely: Sabre, Galileo and Amadeus. 'Air Safari' flights were launched in 1994 using Boeing 737–300 aircraft that used to fly over the Karakoram mountain range. In 1995, 1996 Farooq Umar handed over PIA to another MD March 1996 closing his tenure with great success and leaving PIA profitable with last 6 months profit of more than 55 million PKR. after his departure PIA started to nose dive. PIA purchased a Boeing 747 flight simulator to train its pilots. It also purchased another used Airbus A300 aircraft from Air France. A Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft was also leased briefly in 1996 to cope with surge in passenger traffic during summer 1996. Flights to Beirut were resumed the same year as well.

In 1999, PIA leased 5 Boeing 747–300 aircraft from Cathay Pacific to replace its Boeing 747-200M fleet. The aircraft were painted with a new livery - a handwork Pashmina tail on white body and large Pakistan titles on the front fuselage. The livery was adopted in early 90s but due to some copyright issues it had to be dropped. The Boeing 747-300s remained in the new look but with a plain green tail with PIA titles. The other aircraft in the fleet were repainted in early 1990s livery.


In July 2002, PIA purchased six Boeing 747-300 aircraft from Cathay Pacific, five of which were already on lease. The sixth one arrived shortly afterwards and was used mainly on its North American and European routes. In October 2002, after a period of ten years without any new orders, the airline placed an order for eight Boeing 777 aircraft from The Boeing Company. The order included all three variants of 777, i.e. three 777-200ER (Extended Range), two 777-200LR (Longer Range) and three 777-300ER versions. PIA was the launch customer that revived the Boeing 777-200LR project that, until then, only had three orders by EVA Air.

Boeing delivered the first of three 777-200ER aircraft to PIA in January 2004. PIA introduced a new livery for 777-200ERs airplanes and that livery was later applied to most airplanes of its fleet. PIA also leased six more Airbus A310-300/ET planes from Airbus company directly. On 3 November 2005, PIA placed an order to purchase seven ATR42-500 aircraft from ATR to replace its aging fleet of Fokker F27 aircraft. On 6 December 2005, PIA acquired another new Boeing 777-200ER on a ten-year lease from the International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). The aircraft was delivered in January 2007 to the airline.

On 25 February 2006, Boeing delivered its first 777-200LR to PIA, when it flew from Everett to Islamabad via Manchester. With the induction of long range aircraft in its fleet, PIA started offering non-stop flights from Toronto to Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore from 3 March 2006. PIA had also planned non-stop flights to New York, Chicago, Washington, and Houston but was not given permission by US authorities (unless the airline implemented a European stopover on the flight to American cities). Only the New York flight remains, and it only is nonstop on the way back to Pakistan (from Pakistan to New York the flight stops in Manchester). Washington service ended in the 1990s, Houston services ended in 2006, and Chicago service ended in 2012.

ATR delivered two of the seven ordered airplanes by PIA in May and December 2006 respectively, following which the airline ceased using military Lockheed C-130 Hercules for passenger services in northern areas of Pakistan. The military planes were being used after the PIA Flight 688 accident. On 23 December 2006, PIA took delivery of its first Boeing 777-300ER.

A Boeing 777-300ER landing at London Heathrow from Lahore in 2011
A pair of Boeing 747s stored at Sialkot in 2008 during the EU restrictions. However, once the ban was lifted the aircraft were back in use on all routes

On 5 March 2007, the European Commission banned all but 9 planes of PIA's 42-plane fleet from flying to Europe citing safety concerns of its aging fleet. The ban was imposed following an on-site visit led by Federico Grandini, European Commission’s Air Safety Administrator.[18][19] The remaining 7, namely the fleet of Boeing 777s, was exempted from the ban.[20] PIA claimed that the ban was discriminatory and unjustifiable. On 26 March 2007, Tariq Saeed Kirmani was forced to resign after severe pressure from higher authorities because of the EU ban[citation needed]. Zafar Khan was appointed as the new chairman of Pakistan International Airlines. The ban on the eleven of thirty five aircraft was lifted after a period of four months on 5 July 2007, following another inspection by European Union's Air Safety Administration. Of the eleven aircraft, five were Boeing 747-300s and the remaining six were Airbus A310-300s. On 29 November 2007, the EU completely removed the ban and PIA's entire fleet was permitted to fly to Europe.[21] To avoid such an incident in future, PIA signed a deal to lease seven new Airbus A320-200 from Kuwait based leasing company ALAFCO. The aircraft were supposed to be delivered during 2008 and 2009 but the deal was cancelled before any delivery took place.


In 2010, PIA altered their livery . They replaced the previous tail design with a much larger version of the Pakistan national flag, and have added the text "Pakistan international" in gold writing underneath the large billboard style PIA on the fuselage. The green stripe has also been modified to include gold and has extended to the rear of the fuselage.

Most of PIA's fleet will use this livery until 2015, where their new livery will be introduced.

In February 2012, PIA ordered 5 more Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with delivery starting in 2015 which will wear a new livery. In 2014, PIA leased 4 boeing 737-800 from Travel service and Corendon airlines. PIA also published a tender for 4 Boeing 777-300ER. The airline also wanted to lease 4 ATRs. However, the bids for the 777's were not accepted due to bidding standards.[22] Later, The airline managed to lease A320 aircraft, and inducted 2 A320-214 series aircraft in its fleet, first in June and second in July 2014 with 180 all economy seating configuration but in July 2014 aircraft seating was reconfigured as 150 economy and 8 business class seats. Another wet leased A320-211 aircraft from Jordan Aviation joined PIA on August 11, 2014. In October 2014, airline again wet leased three B737-8 aircraft, and it also accepted bids to dry lease five ATR 72-500 series aircraft for eight years period.[23][24] However, the order of 5 Boeing 777-300ER given in 2012, are postponed up to 2017 because of lack of funds.[25]

Corporate management[edit]


Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIAC) is majority owned by the Government of Pakistan (87%) while the remainder (13%) by private shareholders. The airline is under the administration of Ministry of Defence the chairman of which is Muhammad Mian Nawaz Sharif . The airline is managed by managing director as well as the Board of Directors. The Board consists of nine independent non-executive members and has four sub-committees: an Audit Committee, Brand and Advertising Committee, Finance Committee, and Human Resource Committee each having its own charter and chairman. The MD leads the executive management of staff who run the airline. The airline's main headquarters are located at Karachi Airport while smaller sub head offices are located in several cities within Pakistan.


PIA corporate head office at JIAP Terminal-1, Karachi
PIA offices in Lahore

In the late 1990s, the Government of Pakistan considered selling the airline to the private sector due to the persistent losses suffered by the airline. The Government announced its privatization plans but they were never implemented. Several steps towards outsourcing of non-core business have been initiated. Catering units (starting with Karachi Flight Kitchen), ground handling (starting with ramp services) and engineering, are to be gradually carved out of the airline and operated as independent companies. During 1997, Pakistan called in a team from International Finance (IFC), the consulting arm of the World Bank, to advise on restructuring and privatization of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). However, no agreement was reached.[26] The government has had many plans for the privatization of the State owned airline. However, no reasonable agreement or solution has been found to this day. On 18 February 2009 the carrier was dropped from the privatization list.[27]

Financial performance[edit]

The following table gives the key financial results for 2011 along with those since 2004[28][29] The financial performance for FY 2011 continues to be a challenge with an after tax loss of PKR 26.767 billion. This was preceded by six consecutive loss making years dating back to 2005. The airline did report a reduction of post tax losses of 83% in 2009 (compared to 2008) based on a reduction in fuel cost, comparatively stable exchange rate for the Pakistan Rupee and higher revenues. But in 2011 & 2010, losses again rose sharply compared to the previous years.

The airline faces many challenges to its profitability such as staffing levels and overall management issues. An employee count of 18,014 for a fleet of 40 aircraft [28][29] is clearly an area that needs to be reviewed.

To increase revenue, the Prime Minister of Pakistan approved induction of 20 new generation narrow-bodied, 4 boeing 777-300ER and 4 ATR-72-500. These aircraft will replace the older fleet of PIA. Currently, A310 consumes $5,500 of oil whereas a 737-900ER would consume $2,500 worth of oil. In addition, with 85% seat factor and 12.5 hours of aircraft usage daily, an addition of 72 billion rupees or 720 million dollars of revenue will be achieved. This will also greatly decreases the employee-aircraft employee ratio which currently sits at 776 per aircraft, one of highest in the world. Moreover, the boeing 777 will be used on long routes instead of short routes. This would help reduce the cost of engine overhaul, which is based on flight cycles. Lastly, 35 employees making 1 million rupees per month will also be audited.[30]

Revenues [31]
Year Revenues (PKR in Million) Profit/(Loss) (PKR in Million) Employees (Ave.)
2014 (Q3) 75,930 (10,130) 19,000
2013 95,771 (95,000) 16,604
2012 112,130 (33,180) 17,439
2011 116,551 (26,767) 18,014
2010 107,532 (20,785) 18,019
2009 94,564 (5,822) 17,944
2008 88,863 (36,139) 18,036
2007 70,481 (13,399) 18,149
2006 70,587 (12,763) 18,282
2005 64,074 (4,412) 19,263
2004 57,788 2,307 19,634

In recent years, PIA revenue and source of income has been dropping significantly. In 2010, PIA carried 1,454,000 kg of mail. In 2013, PIA managed just 648,000 of mail. Additionally, PIA's revenue from excess baggage, passenger load factor and passenger kilometer flow are among many that have been declining steadily.[32]

Passenger Traffic [31]
Year Revenue Passengers (Million) Passenger Load Factor Average Passenger Stage Distance (Statute KM)
2013 4,449 70 2,751
2012 5.236 70 2,650
2011 5.953 72 2,631
2010 5.538 74 2,827
2009 5.535 70 2,510
2008 5.617 71 2,479
2007 5.415 67 2,527
2007 5.415 67 2,527
2006 5.732 69 2,639
2005 5.499 70 2,638

It is also interesting to note that for 2011, about 81% of revenue is from passenger traffic and only 5% from cargo. Another 7.8% is from room food and beverage sales.The remaining 6% is from excess baggage, charter, engineering services, handling & related services, mail & other.[29]


PIA first A320 series aircraft on its delivery at Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad in July 2014

As of July 2014 PIA serves 30 domestic and 36 international destinations in 28 countries across Asia, Europe and North America from its home bases of Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar.[33][34]

Dubai is a major focus city for the airline with flights to Dera Ghazi Khan, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar and Quetta.


PIA have codeshare agreements with the following airlines to three destinations, namely Ürümqi, Bangkok and Istanbul.[35][36]


Pakistan International Airlines fleet includes the following aircraft.

Several PIA aircraft parked in Islamabad.
Boeing 747-367 on final approach to London Heathrow Airport in 2004
Pakistan International Airlines Fleet
Aircraft Total Orders Options Passengers Notes
J Q Y Total
Airbus A310-300 5 0 0 12 0 195 207
Airbus A320-200 3 6 0 8 0 150 158 All on lease
ATR 42-500 5 0 0 0 8 40 48
ATR 72-500 0 5 0 0 0 72 72
Boeing 737-800 4 0 0 0 0 189 189 All on lease
Boeing 747-300 1 0 0 0 0 502 502
Boeing 777-200ER 4 0 0 35 54 240 329
0 35 45 240 320 One on lease
Boeing 777-200LR 2 0 0 35 60 215 310 Launch Customer
Boeing 777-300ER 3 5 0 35 54 304 393
Total 27 16 0


In December 2003 PIA introduced a new image that was applied to its first Boeing 777-200ER and on two newly leased Airbus A310s, one of which was in service. The livery was white at the front and beige at the rear separated by a dark green stripe. The tail was painted white with a new typeface PIA acronym written in dark green. The Pakistan title was added to the front fuselage in all raised letters and the engines were painted in beige colour. The PIA logo written in calligraphic Urdu was added just behind the cockpit.

However, due to criticism the design was modified before the first Boeing 777 was delivered. PIA replaced the tail with a flowing Pakistan flag on a beige background. Pakistan titles were removed and the PIA acronym was enlarged and moved onto the fuselage. The engines and Urdu PIA remained the same. The leased A310s and most of PIA fleet also adopted this livery at a later date. In early 2006 the airline launched four new tail designs for its fleet. The tails represented the four provinces of Pakistan: Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Balochistan.[37] The tails promoted the cultures of the four provinces of Pakistan by applying motifs to the tails and adding a city name to the rear of the fuselage corresponding to the province. The "Frontier" tail represented the "Phulkari" (flowering) pattern, which reflected a tradition of embroidery generally done on shawls, shirts and linen. The "Punjab" tail was loosely related to the tile decoration of the Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore. The "Balochistan" tail showed the creativity seen in the local kilims, carpets and rugs woven with wool, goat or camel hair and mixed yarn. The pattern is mostly bold geometric motifs in primary colours dominated by red. The "Sindh" tail was influenced by the Hala tile work with electric blue and white floral patterns. In 2009 management stopped the application of provincial tails, deeming them too costly.

PIA launched its new livery in early April 2010. An Airbus A310, Boeing 777–200 and Boeing 747–300 were the first aircraft to wear the new look. The livery was unveiled at the PIA headquarters on a Boeing 777 model.[38][39]

The livery consists of a green and gold strip running around the bottom of the fuselage and continuing right up until the tail cone. The forward/upper portion is white and at the rear it is an off white/beige colour. The bottom part of the tail blends into the upper fuselage as it is too white, with the rest of the tail painted with a large wavy Pakistan flag, which takes up the whole tail, in a dark green colour. At the front of the fuselage 'PIA' is written in a billboard style in dark green and underneath 'Pakistan International' is written in gold. Just behind the cockpit there is a stylized Urdu PIA logo as well as on the engines. Underneath, 'Pakistan' is written in bold on the aircraft belly.

In July 2014 on delivery of first A320 series aircraft, PIA introduced "crescent and star" on aircraft engines out of Urdu PIA logo.

Crescent and Star on the engine cowling of an Airbus A320

Former Fleet[edit]

Pakistan International Airlines Fokker F27 at Lahore International Airport in January 2006
Aircraft Introduced Retired
Airbus A300B4-200 1980 2005
Airbus A321 2006 2007
Boeing 707-340C 1960 1998
Boeing 720B 1962 1986
Boeing 737-300 1985 2014
Boeing 747-200B 1976 2000
Boeing 747-200B Combi 1979 2011
Convair CV-240-5/7 1955 1959
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 1970 2001
Douglas DC-3 1955 1967
Douglas DC-8-21F 19?? 19??
Douglas DC-8-61F 19?? 19??
Fokker F27 Friendship 1961 2006
Hawker Siddeley Trident 1E 1966 1970
Lockheed L-100-382B-4C Hercules 1966 1966
Lockheed L.1049C Super Constellation 1954 1969
Lockheed L.1049H Super Constellation 1958 1969
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 1974 1986
Mil Mi-8MTV-1 1995 1997
Sikorsky S-61N 1963 1967
Tupolev Tu-154 1996 1996
Vickers Viscount 815 1956 1966
Pakistan International Airlines 747-217B



PIA B777 Business Plus cabin - May 2014

PIA operate a three class configuration on its domestic routes: Business Plus, Economy Plus+ and Economy. On their international flights a two class configuration, Business Plus and Economy, has remained popular. According to their Annual Report 2007, PIA recorded a seat factor of 69%, a percentage drop from 2006.[40] PIA Business Plus passengers are offered lie-flat bed seats on all Boeing 777 as well as selected Airbus A310 aircraft.

Newspapers and magazines[edit]

The PIA in-flight magazine, Humsafar (Urdu for "travel companion"), is provided to all passengers on all flights. Humsafar was introduced in 1980 and is printed and published in-house bi-monthly. General Urdu and English newspapers and magazines are available to all Business Plus and Economy Plus class passengers. Free newspapers are provided to all Economy class passengers.

Frequent flyer programme[edit]

PIA Awards Plus+ is the frequent flyer programme. The programme allows passengers to get free tickets, excess baggage vouchers, cabin upgrades, and a variety of rewards, special deals, and discounts with participants. Awards Plus+ has three tiers of membership — Emerald, Sapphire and Diamond. Awards Plus+ miles can be earned by flying PIA and by using the products and services of PIA's partners.


PIA Catering is the main suppliers of meals for the airline. It can produce 15,000 passenger meals each day.[41] However, since 2006, the management of the flight kitchens has been given to Singapore Air Terminal Services (SATS).[42] PIA Catering provides special meals to allow for passengers' dietary and religious needs. PIA does not serve alcohol on its flights, nor is pork served on board because of religious law.

Cargo operations[edit]

PIA "Speedex" corporate logo

PIA operates a cargo delivery system within Pakistan. During the early 1970s, PIA operated a service called "Air Express" that delivered documents and parcels from one airport to another. Pakistan International Cargo was started in 1974 using two Boeing 707-320C, with services to the Middle East and Europe. The operations ended in the late 1990s when both aircraft were grounded. PIA Cargo transports goods across Pakistan as well as to international destinations. These include meat and vegetables, textiles, paper products, laboratory equipment[43] and postal mail.[44]

In 2003 PIA launched "'PIA Speedex'", a courier service in Karachi, Lahore, and Rawalpindi/Islamabad; expanding within a year to 12 cities. Today, the airline offers over 70 locations within Pakistan, with shipments collected and delivered from customers' homes. From 2004 to September 2007, PIA Cargo operated two Airbus A300 Freighter aircraft chartered through MNG Airlines to Haan and Luton; initially these also operated to Amsterdam, Basel and Cologne.

Corporate sponsorship[edit]

The airline has sponsored events, both within Pakistan and in its overseas markets.

In the 1990s, the airline launched the three green stripe livery to represent its support for sports. The airline supports the Pakistan International Airlines first-class cricket team that plays in the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy and Patron's Trophy. PIA sponsors the PIA football club, and the A1 Team Pakistan in the A1 Grand Prix open-wheel auto racing series when it was initially launched. The airline also promotes the Shandur Polo Gala, that takes place every year in the Chitral and Gilgit regions of northern Pakistan during the summer period.[45] PIA also has its own Sports Division since 1958 promoting sports within Pakistan such as cricket, hockey, football, squash, polo, tennis, bridge, chess, table tennis, cycling, and body building. PIA has its own Boy Scouts Association (PIA-BSA) working in partnership with Pakistan Boy Scouts Association. After the earthquake, PIA-BSA worked in partnership with other charity organisations to provide relief help.

A PIA B747-3 registered AP-BFU with national flag tail.

PIA was one of the official sponsors of the "Destination Pakistan 2007" festivals. The official logo was added to a select number of aircraft during the year[46] In 2008, PIA teamed up with mobile phone provider, Ufone to provide air miles to passengers who used the mobile network. Standard Chartered Bank and PIA launched Credit Cards allowing passengers to earn air miles for use of their credit cards.[47] In 2009, PIA was the gold sponsor for Logistics Pakistan, an Exhibition and Conference poised to highlight the emerging opportunities for the Logistics sector in Pakistan. In 2009, PIA and Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) formed a strategic alliance to promote world money transfers.[48]

PIA has Planetariums in Karachi and Lahore which enable the public to see static aircraft as well as astronomy shows. PIA Horticulture, set up in 1996, provides flowers for display in PIA's offices and for events, winning awards and accolades at flower exhibitions across the country. The airline supports non-profit organisations within Pakistan such as; Al-Shifa Trust, Zindagi Trust, The Citizens Foundation and Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).[49] In 2009, PIA teamed up with the fast-food franchise, McDonalds, to offer passengers discounts on meals and upgrades.[50] PIA also owns three hotels, the Roosevelt Hotel, the Scribe Hotel and Skyrooms (Private) Limited.[51] The airline also has an agreement with Pearl Continental Hotels for its UAE based passengers.[52]

Special operations[edit]

Charter services[edit]

PIA operates private charter flights using ATR 42s to Bhit, Kadanwari and Sehwan Sharif in Sindh as well as to other parts of the country for oil and gas companies and other customers. Ad hoc charters for United Nations peacekeeping troops are also carried out to Africa and Eastern Europe, Asia (South Korea, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, East Timor) and many other International destinations using Boeing (747, 777, 737) & Airbus 310 . PIA Charter Team provide them Executive services

Hajj and Umrah operations[edit]

PIA (Pakistan international) operates a two-month (pre- and post-) Hajj operation each year to and from Jeddah and sometimes Madinah in Saudi Arabia. PIA transports over 130,000 intending pilgrims each year from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Faisalabad, Multan, Sialkot, and Sukkur to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with its fleet of Boeing 747-300 and Boeing 777-200ER.[citation needed]

State officials transportation[edit]

Callsign "PAKISTAN 001" carrying the President on PIA's Boeing 707 photographed in Germany, c.1961

PIA has been continuously serving government officials of Pakistan, and has always transported the President and Prime Minister on overseas visits. During the late 1990s, a PIA Boeing 737–300[53] was used for official visits by the Bhutto and Sharif governments. The aircraft wore official government colours but was later repainted in the airline official colours at the end of the decade. When the government changed after a military coup in 1999, the Boeing 737-300 was transferred to PIA permanently. The President and Prime Minister then resorted to using two of PIA's Airbus A310-300 for official visits, while rare trips were done on regular commercial flights of the airline. In February 2007 the government of Qatar gifted one of their VIP fleet A310[54] to the Pakistani government, this has ended the need for use of PIA aircraft. However, from time to time the government uses the airline's Boeing 737 or Airbus A310 for official trips.[55]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

Since it began services, seven Pakistan International Airlines flights have crashed.[56]

The memorial tablet placed at the crash site in Cairo for those who died on PIA Flight 705 on 20 May 1965.
  • On 18 May 1959, Vickers Viscount AP-AJC was damaged beyond economic repair on landing at Islamabad International Airport.[57]
  • On 14 August 1959, Vickers Viscount AP-AJE crashed at Karachi International Airport while attempting an overshoot with two engines inoperative on a training flight. Two of the three people on board were killed.[58]
  • PIA Flight 705 was a Boeing 720 that crashed while descending to land on Runway 34 at Cairo International Airport on 20 May 1965 resulting in 121 fatalities.
  • Flight 17 was a Sikorsky S-61 that crashed on 2 February 1966 on a scheduled domestic flight in East Pakistan with 23 killed and one survivor.
  • On 20 January 1978, a PIA plane (while at Karachi) carrying 22 passengers was hijacked by a gunman and asked to be flown to India. The then chairman of PIA, Air Marshal (Retd) Nur Khan boarded the plane to negotiate with the hijacker. He was hit by a bullet while trying to disarm the hijacker but still managed to overpower him.[59][60]
  • PIA Flight 740 was a Boeing 707-340C that crashed after takeoff from Jeddah International Airport on 26 November 1979. Flight PK740 departed Jeddah at 01:29 for a flight to Karachi resulting in 156 fatalities.
  • PIA Flight 326 was hijacked on 2 March 1981 by three gunmen, and flown to Kabul. For almost two weeks, more than 100 passengers were held captive on the Boeing 720 until Pakistan released 55 prisoners. One passenger, Pakistani diplomat Tariq Rahim, was murdered during the ordeal.[61] The aircraft involved in this incident was subsequently retired and is preserved.
  • On 23 October 1986, a Fokker F-27 aircraft crashed during approach to Peshawar Airport. Of the 54 passengers and crew on board, 13 were killed in the accident.[62][63]
  • Flight 404 - on 25 August 1989, a Fokker F-27 crashed into a mountain after taking off from Gilgit Airport. All 54 passengers and crew on board were killed.[64]
  • PIA Flight 268 was an Airbus A300B4-203, registration AP-BCP, which crashed on approach to Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on 28 September 1992. All 167 on board were killed.
  • PIA Flight 544 was the flight number of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Fokker F27 that was hijacked on 25 May 1998. All passengers and crew escaped unhurt during the incident.
  • PIA Flight 688 was a Fokker F27 was scheduled to operate from Multan to Lahore and then to Islamabad. At 12:05pm on 10 July 2006, it crashed into a field[65] after bursting into flames a few minutes after takeoff[66] from Multan International Airport. All 41 passengers and four crew members on board were killed.
  • On 30 May 2009, an ATR 42-500 registration AP-BHO operating flight PK-688 Multan to Lahore skidded off the runway when landing at Allama Iqbal International Airport . All 43 passengers and 4 crew aboard remained safe. Aircraft landing gears were damaged and repaired later in October 2009.[67]
  • On 31 August 2012, another PIA ATR 42-500 registration AP-BHJ operating flight PK-653 Islamabad to Lahore was landing at Allama Iqbal International Airport when it made undershot landing and rest on grassy area on the right side of Runway 36R. All 42 passengers and 4 crew members remained safe in this accident. Aircraft was damaged beyond repair and withdrawn from service.[67]
  • On 11 February 2013, a PIA B737 aircraft registered AP-BEH was operating PK-259 from Islamabad-Muscat via Sialkot when its port side main landing gear collapsed during landing at Muscat International Airport. All 107 passengers and 7 crew members aboard the aircraft remained safe in this accident. Aircraft was damaged beyond repair and withdrawn from service.[67]
  • A PIA A310-300 series aircraft registered AP-BGN was operating PK-756 Riyadh to Peshawar on June 24, 2014 with 178 passengers and 12 crew members aboard, when hit by gunfire during landing approach at Bacha Khan International Airport, Peshawar. Aircraft landed safely but 1 passenger killed and 2 crew members injured in this incident. The plane was damaged but later it was ferried to Jinnah International Airport, Karachi for repair.[68]
  • On 8 October 2014 a PIA Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A320-200, registration AP-BLB performing flight PK-203 from Lahore (Pakistan) to Dubai (United Arab Emirates), was climbing out of Lahore's runway 36R when the crew stopped the climb at FL175 due to the windshield becoming cracked. The aircraft returned to Lahore for a safe landing about 30 minutes after departure.[69]
  • On 5 December 2014 a PIA 777-200LR travelling from Toronto to Karachi with 286 people on board made a return to Toronto when the aircraft initiated an emergency descent to 10,000 feet due to the rapid loss of cabin pressure. The plane tried to land at Pearson International Airport but couldn't as there was a British Airways plane on the runway, it then made a go-around and landed safely on the second try, the aircraft was registered as AP-BGZ.[70]

See also[edit]


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  3. ^ Chairman PIA |
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  53. ^ "AP-BEH" PIA B737 in Government Colours
  54. ^ Pakistan Air Force A310-304
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  56. ^ "Accident Rates By Airline". 
  57. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 11 September 2009. 
  58. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 11 September 2009. 
  59. ^ "Hijacking in Karachi; Hijacking wasn't first try". The New York Times. 7 September 1986. Retrieved 7 December 2011. 
  60. ^ Mishra, Sidharth (1997). Where Gallantry is Tradition: Saga of Rashtriya Indian Military College. Allied Publishers. p. 153. ISBN 978-81-7023-649-8. 
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  62. ^ Aircraft accident Fokker F-27 Friendship 200 AP-BBF Bunji
  63. ^ History of PIA - Pakistan International Airlines
  64. ^ Aircraft accident Fokker F-27 Friendship 600 AP-AUX Peshawar Airport
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  69. ^
  70. ^

Insane Truck Driver Collides and Damaged Two PIA Planes at Benazir International Airport

External links[edit]