PIA to resume direct operations to US by the end of this year

The operations were previously halted amid security concerns.

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  • Pakistan International Airlines could resume direct operations to the US by the end of this year. 
  • PIA has invited the Transport Security Administration (TSA) for security clearance purposes.
  • 16 hours hassle-free journey for travelers. 
  • Currently, the travel time is even more than 24 hours. 

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has invited the Transport Security Administration (TSA) team from the USA to get security clearance for Islamabad Airport as it prepares for resumption of direct operations to the states. The team will be arriving in Islamabad on July 17 & 18th, 2019 and expectedly, the direct operations will be resumed by the end of this year.

This will significantly ease the traveling experience for overseas Pakistanis as a direct flight means a significantly shrunk 16 hours journey.  Without any layovers at airports and added labor of changing terminals, the passengers will have a more comfortable and luxurious travel experience. As for now, the passengers have to travel via other airlines so they have to stop at their hubs. As a result, some flights event extend to more than 24 hours.

Pakistan’s diaspora has been requesting for a direct flight to the US since PIA closed operations in October 2017. PIA worked tirelessly to meet the demand and will be resuming the operations very soon.

Previously, as none of the Pakistani airports were cleared by TSA, PIA had to use mid-point like Manchester or Barcelona airports to operate to the US. This lead to a significant surge in the operations costs and subsequently, PIA had to suspend flights to the USA a year and a half ago.

As New Islamabad International Airport and beefed up security apparatus at Islamabad (shifting resources from other parts of the country), PIA is again aiming to get clearance from TSA.

Why were the direct operations halted?

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PIA had been operating to the US since 1961, the first carrier of the region to connect the USA with Mainland China and the Far East. In fact PIA ordered Boeing 777 LRs (Long Range) aircraft in the late 90s to fly directly on this route, however, with post 9/11 security situation and security infrastructure at Pakistani airports, PIA was not allowed to operate directly resulting in heavy losses to the national airline.

There is a lot of pressure on PIA from the Pakistani origin citizen, families, especially the elderly to start this direct route and PIA is listening to them. Inside sources in PIA have shared that the PIA management is working closely and actively with the US Embassy in Islamabad and US Consul General of Karachi to coordinate the TSA team’s visit to Pakistan.


Also See: Boeing 777 Of PIA Test Flies After Remaining Grounded For 1.5 Years

The US departments have gone out of the way to pay a big role in speedy inspection and restoring direct flights between the two countries. This surely an indication of improving bilateral ties and a key step in confidence-building measures.

It is worth mentioning here that a French Team representing the travel authorities also inspected CAA, ASF and PIA facilities and security procedures at Islamabad. They could not come up with single observation for PIA, proving that it is hundred percent complying with international standards.  Similarly, the Department of Transport of UK has cleared Sialkot PIA Operations with a three years license, a show of confidence because normally they have issued only two years clearances before.

With the TSA visit just around the corner, it looks like PIA will be reopening the direct flight to the USA very soon. (Source: PIA)

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