Pakistan International Airlines

Pakistan International Airlines
IATA ICAO Callsign
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program PIA Awards Plus+
Airport lounge PIA Business Plus Lounge
Fleet size 38
Destinations 49[1]
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
  • Muhammad Azam Saigol (Chairman) [3]
  • Bernd Hildenbrand (CEO) [4]
Revenue Decrease Rs. 69.24 billion PKR (Third Quarter Report 2015)[5]
Net income Decrease Rs. 20.55 billion PKR (Third Quarter Report 2015)[5]

Pakistan International Airlines (Urdu: پاکستان بین القوامی ہوائی راستہ) commonly known as PIA (Urdu: پی‌آئی‌اے) is a Karachi based airline which is the national flag carrier of Pakistan. Its main hub is Karachi while Lahore and Islamabad serve as its secondary hubs.

The airline was founded on 23 October 1946 as Orient Airways, initially based in Calcutta prior to the Partition of British India. It later acquired four Douglas DC-3s. The airline was nationalized on 10 January 1955 and was renamed as Pakistan International Airlines. Its first international flight was in 1955, operating to London, via Cairo and Rome.[6] PIA has a history of milestones in aviation, it was the second Asian airline to acquire a jet aircraft, a Boeing 707. It was the first Asian carrier to fly the Lockheed Super Constellation and also was the first non-communist airline to fly to China. More recently, it was the launch customer of the Boeing 777-200LR.[7] The airline also owns The Roosevelt Hotel and Sofitel Paris Scribe Hotel.[8]

It is Pakistan's largest airline with an in-service fleet of almost forty aircraft.[9][10][11] As of 2016, PIA is going through a procedure of privatization to shift management from government to the private sector. It employed nearly 14,000 people as of annual report 2015 and the airline has an overall punctuality of 88%.[12][13] PIA operates scheduled services to 22 domestic destinations and 27 international destinations across Asia, Europe, Middle East and North America. It operates nearly 100 flights daily.[14]


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


Pakistan International Airlines can trace its origins to the days when Pakistan had not yet gained independence from the British Raj. In 1945, the country's founder Muhammed Ali Jinnah realized the need for a flag carrier for the prospective country and requested financial help from wealthy businessmen 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 Douglas DC-3 aircraft 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 gained independence and Orient Airways started relief operations for the new country. It was the first and only Muslim owned airline in the British Raj and flew from 1947 to 1955.


On 6 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: KarachiLahorePeshawar and KarachiQuettaLahore. 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 also inaugurated its first international route, Karachi-London Heathrow Airport[15] via Cairo and Rome, using four newly acquired Lockheed L-1049C Super Constellations. The airline continued using DC-3s on domestic routes in Pakistan. In May 1956, PIA ordered two Super Lockheed Constellations of the latest L-1049H type and five Vickers Viscount 815.


The appointment of Air Marshal Nur Khan as the Managing Director of PIA in 1959 heralded an era of success for PIA. In March 1960, PIA wet-leased a Boeing 707 from Pan American airlines, thereby becoming the second Asian airline after Air India[16] to induct a jet aircraft in its fleet. 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 the Boeing 720s flown by Captain Abdullah Baig flying from London to Karachi established 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.

From 1962 to 1966, PIA operated its Sikorsky S-61 helicopters for services within East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh).[17] These were retired in 1966 and a reduced network of eight cities was served by Fokker F27 aircraft.[17] Upon the establishment of ties between Pakistan and the 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.[18] At the outbreak of Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Pakistani Armed Forces used PIA's services for logistics and transport purposes. The Viscounts were phased out in 1966 and were replaced by four Hawker Siddeley Tridents.


The '70s 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 a 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. 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 the aircraft 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 PIA was regarded as Asia's best airline.[19] 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 1980s 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 aircraft were donated to the planetariums in Karachi and Lahore later on.

Also in 1985, five new Boeing 737-300s were introduced to PIA's fleet, making PIA the first Asian airline with such a diverse aircraft fleet. In late 1987 and early 1988, services to Malé and Toronto were introduced. In 1990, First Officer Maliha Sami became the first female pilot of PIA when she took off on the Karachi-Panjgur-Turbat-Gwadar route.

In the mid-1980s, PIA also helped establish Emirates by leasing two of its aircraft - an Airbus A300 and a Boeing 737-300 - as well as providing technical and administrative assistance to the new carrier.


PIA Airbus A300 at Fiumicino Airport, Rome (1991)

In June 1991, Airbus delivered the first of six A310-300 aircraft. AVM Farooq became the first 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 aircraft, the airline introduced flights to Tashkent in 1992 and to Zürich in 1993.

In 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 six 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. PIA added Jakarta, Fujairah, Baku and Al-Ain to its destinations in 1994. In addition, PIA became a client of three 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 five 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 was 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.


A Boeing 777-300ER landing at London Heathrow from Allama Iqbal International Airport (2011)

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.

A Airbus A321 taking off from Islamabad Airport (2006)

Boeing delivered the first of three 777-200ER aircraft to PIA in January 2004. PIA introduced a new livery for the 777-200ERs that was applied to most of its fleet. PIA also leased six more Airbus A310-300/ET aircraft directly from Airbus. On 3 November 2005, PIA placed an order to purchase seven ATR 42-500 aircraft from ATR to replace its aging fleet of Fokker F27 Friendship 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 ATR 42s to 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 aircraft were being used after the PIA Flight 688 accident. On 23 December 2006, PIA took delivery of its first Boeing 777-300ER.

On 5 March 2007, the European Commission banned all but 9 of PIA's 42-strong fleet from flying to Europe citing safety concerns over its aging aircraft. The ban was imposed following an on-site visit led by Federico Grandini, the European Commission’s Air Safety Administrator.[20][21] The fleet of Boeing 777s was exempted from the ban.[22] PIA claimed that the ban was discriminatory and unjustifiable. On 26 March 2007, Tariq Saeed Kirmani was forced to resign after pressure from higher authorities because of the EU ban. Zafar Khan was appointed as the new chairman of Pakistan International Airlines.

The ban on some of the aircraft was lifted after a period of four months on 5 July 2007, following an inspection by the European Union 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.[23] To avoid such an incident in future, PIA signed a deal to lease seven new Airbus A320-200s from Kuwait-based leasing company ALAFCO. The aircraft were supposed to be delivered during 2008 and 2009 but the deal was cancelled.


PIA National flag tail, introduced in 2010

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

In February 2012, PIA ordered five more Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. In 2014, PIA leased four Boeing 737-800s. PIA also issued a request for tender for four Boeing 777-300ERs. The airline also wanted to lease four ATR aircraft. However, the bids for the 777s were not accepted due to bidding standards. Later, The airline managed to lease Airbus A320 aircraft, and inducted two A320-214 series aircraft in its fleet in 2014. Another wet leased A320-211 aircraft joined PIA on August 11, 2014. In October 2014, the airline again wet leased three Boeing 737-800 aircraft, and it also accepted bids to dry lease five ATR 72-500 series aircraft for an eight-year period. In 2015, after serving PIA for 16 years, the Boeing 747-300s were phased out.

In August 2016, PIA launched a new 'Premier Service' for flights to London, using three Airbus A330s wet-leased from SriLankan Airlines.[24] The remaining five Boeing 777-300ERs order made in 2002 was postponed to 2017 because of a lack of funds. In 2016, before the deliveries of Boeing 777-300ERs started, Boeing offered to exchange the order of Boeing 777-300ER to Boeing 787 which was later accepted and the order was exchanged with 8 Boeing 787s.

Corporate management

PIA Headquarters in Lahore


Pakistan International Airlines Corporation Limited (PIACL) 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[25] Airport while smaller sub head offices are located in several cities within Pakistan.


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]

In year 2013, Government of Pakistan once again aimed to privatize the airline due to increased losses by selling twenty six percent of shares & management control to the investor.

Financial performance

The following table gives the key financial results for 2011 along with those since 2004. 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 2010 & 2011, 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 an area for review.

To increase revenue, the Prime Minister of Pakistan approved a fleet modernisation, consisting of twenty new-generation narrow-body aircraft; four Boeing 777-300ERs and four ATR 72-500 turboprops. These aircraft will replace the older fleet of PIA. An A310 consumes $5,500 of oil whereas a 737-900ER would consume $2,500 worth of oil. In addition, with a load factor of 85% and 12.5 hours of aircraft usage daily, an additional 72 billion rupees or 720 million dollars of revenue would be achieved. This will also greatly decrease the employee-to-aircraft ratio which currently sits at 776 per aircraft, one of the 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]

Year Revenues (PKR in Million) Profit/(Loss) (PKR in Million) Employees (Ave.)
2015 3Q 69,249 (50,552) 15,000 approx.
2014 99,519 (32,222) 16,000
2013 95,771 (44,322) 16,604
2012 97,438 (33,844) 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.[31]

Passenger Traffic
Year Revenue Passengers (Million) Passenger Load Factor Average Passenger Stage Distance (Statute KM)
2014 4,202 72 2,833
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]


Islamabad Airport, is one of three main hubs for the airline.

As of September 2016, PIA serves 22 domestic and 27 international destinations in 28 countries across Asia, Middle East, Europe and North America

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

Codeshare agreements

PIA have codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[32]


A Airbus A330-300 on final approach to London Heathrow Airport (2016)

As of November 2016 the Pakistan International Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft:[9]

Pakistan International Airlines Fleet
Aircraft Total Orders Passengers Notes
J Q Y Total
Airbus A310-300 4 227 227
18 43 144 205
Airbus A320-200 11 2 8 150 158 3 painted in 1960s retro livery[33][34][35]
Airbus A330-300 1 2[24] 38 269 307 Premier Service operations for London
ATR 42-500 6 10 38 48
ATR 72-500 5 8 60 68
Boeing 777-200ER 6 35 54 240 329 1 painted in 1960s retro livery[36]
35 45 240 320
25 54 228 307
Boeing 777-200LR 2 35 60 215 310 Launch customer
Boeing 777-300ER 3 35 54 304 393
Boeing 787-8 8[37] TBA Delivery from June 2017
Total 38 12


Boeing 777 painted in 1960s Livery

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. The tail logo was replaced by a flowing Pakistan flag on a beige background. The "Pakistan" titles were removed and the PIA acronym was enlarged and moved onto the fuselage. The engines and Urdu PIA titles remained the same. The leased A310s and most of the 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.[38] 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 was 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. 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 too is 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 the first A320 series aircraft, PIA introduced a "crescent and star" on the aircraft engines' cowlings in place of the Urdu PIA logo. In 2015, after the completion of sixty years service to the nation, a retro livery was introduced. Three of the Airbus A320s (reg. AP-BLA, AP-BLT and AP-BLU) and a Boeing 777-200ER (AP-BMG) were painted in the airline's 1960s livery.[33][34][35]

Former fleet

Pakistan International Airlines Fokker F27 at Lahore International Airport (2006)
Pakistan International Airlines ATR 42-500 at Gilgit Airport
A Douglas DC-8 in PIA colours
Boeing 747-367 on approach to London Heathrow Airport (2004)
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 737-800 2014 2015
Boeing 747-200B 1976 2005
Boeing 747-200B Combi 1979 2011
Boeing 747-300 1999 2015
Convair CV-240 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


PIA Premier

PIA Premier was launched as a luxury air service on 14 August 2016. An Airbus A330 aircraft wet-leased from SriLankan Airlines is used to operate the service, with two more to follow.[24] There are six weekly flights to London, three each from Islamabad and Lahore.[39] This service will be expanded to other routes, including Chinese destinations.[40]


PIA's Boeing 777 Business Class.
PIA's Boeing 777 Economy Class.

PIA operates a three-class configuration on its domestic routes: Business, Economy Plus+ and Economy. On international flights a two class configuration, Business and Economy class, has remained popular. PIA Business passengers are offered lie-flat bed seats on all Boeing 777 as well as selected Airbus A310 aircraft. Recliners are offered on board the Airbus A320 and select Airbus A310 aircraft. In Economy Class, all passengers on the Boeing 777 are offered seats with a 31-inch legroom and personal entertainment screens in a 3-3-3 configuration. On the Airbus A320, leather seats in a 3-3 configuration are offered. As of 2015, PIA is adding new Business Class seats on board the Boeing 777-200LR, which will be 180 degree lie-flat Solstys seats with bigger IFE screens, in a 1-2-1 configuration, giving direct aisle access to all passengers.[41]

In-flight magazine

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.

Frequent Flyer Programme

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's Business Plus+ Breakfast

PIA Catering is the main suppliers of meals for the airline. It can produce 15,000 passenger meals each day. However, since 2006, the management of the flight kitchens has been given to Singapore Air Terminal Services (SATS). 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

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 and postal mail.

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

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.[42] 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.

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[43] 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.[44] 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.[45]

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).[46] In 2009, PIA teamed up with the fast-food franchise, McDonalds, to offer passengers discounts on meals and upgrades.[47] PIA also owns three hotels, the Roosevelt Hotel, the Scribe Hotel and Skyrooms (Private) Limited.[48] The airline also has an agreement with Pearl Continental Hotels for its UAE based passengers.[49]

Charter and special services

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

Charter services

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 Airbus A310 and sometimes Boeing 777 PIA Charter Team provide these Executive services.

Hajj and Umrah operations

PIA (Pakistan international) operates a two-month (pre- and post-) Hajj operation each year to and from Jeddah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia. PIA transports over 100,000 intending pilgrims each year from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Faisalabad, Multan and Sialkot to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with its fleet of Airbus A310-300, Airbus A320-200 and Boeing 777.

State officials transportation

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[50] 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 A310-300s for official visits, while rare trips were done on regular commercial flights of the airline. In February 2007 the government of Qatar gifted an Airbus A310 from its VIP fleet[51] to the Pakistani government, this ended the need for the use of PIA aircraft. However, from time to time the government uses one of the airline's Airbus A320s, or occasionally a Boeing 777, for official trips.[52]

Incidents and accidents

The memorial tablet at the crash site in Cairo for those who died on PIA Flight 705 on 20 May 1965

Since it began services, seven Pakistan International Airlines flights have crashed.[53]

See also


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