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Pakistan International Airlines (Urdu: پاکستان انٹرنیشنل ایئر لائنز‎) commonly referred by PIA (Urdu: پی‌آئی‌اے‎) is the national flag carrier of Pakistan. Its main hub is Karachi's Jinnah International Airport while Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore and Islamabad's New Islamabad International Airport serve as secondary hubs.

Pakistan International Airlines
PIA Official Logo 2014.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded29 October 1946; 72 years ago (1946-10-29) (as Orient Airways)
Frequent-flyer programPIA Awards Plus
  • Roosevelt Hotel
  • Hotel The Scribe (Paris)
  • Skyrooms (Pvt) Limited
  • PIA Investments Limited
Fleet size32
Company sloganGreat People to fly with
Parent companyAviation Division (Government of Pakistan)[2]
HeadquartersJinnah International Airport
Karachi, Pakistan
Key peopleArshad Malik (CEO)
RevenueIncrease 100 billion Pakistani rupees
(Third quarter Report 2017)[3]
Net incomeDecrease Rs. (36.50) billion Pakistani rupees
(Third quarter Report 2017)[3]

The airline was founded on 29 October 1946 as Orient Airways, initially based in Calcutta in India, before shifting operations to the newly independent state of Pakistan in 1947. It was nationalised and merged with another airline in 1955,[4] and Pakistan International Airlines Corporation came into existence. The airline commenced international services in 1955 to London, via Cairo and Rome.[5] PIA was the first non-communist airline to fly to China and was the second Asian airline (after Air India) to acquire jet aircraft by inducting a Boeing 707.[citation needed] In 2004, PIA became the launch customer of the Boeing 777-200LR.[6][better source needed]Launch customer

PIA is Pakistan's largest airline, and operates a fleet of more than 30 aircraft. The airline operates scheduled services to 18 domestic destinations and 25 international destinations across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. It operates nearly 100 flights daily.[1] In addition to commercial flight operations, PIA also owns The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, and the Sofitel Paris Scribe Hotel in Paris.[7]

The airline employed nearly 13,000+ people in 2018.[8]



Passengers and bystanders with an Orient Airways Douglas DC-3 on the occasion of the arrival of the Burmese High Commissioner to India at Calcutta, circa 1947
A Convair CV-240 at Karachi Airport, circa 1950
A Boeing 720 at Heathrow Airport, circa 1962


Pakistan International Airlines can trace its origins to the days when Pakistan had not yet come into existence following the end of the British Raj and the Partition of India. In 1945, the country's founder Muhammed Ali Jinnah realised 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 Kolkata (then known as Calcutta) on 23 October 1946. In February 1947, the airline bought three Douglas DC-3 aircraft and obtained a licence to fly in May of the same year. The airline started its operations in June, offering services from Calcutta to Sittwe and Rangoon (present-day 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.[9][10]


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: Karachi–LahorePeshawar 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 also inaugurated its first international route, Karachi-London Heathrow Airport[11] 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 five Vickers Viscount 815s.


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[12] to induct a jet aircraft in its fleet. With the newly acquired aircraft, the airline introduced its first trans-Atlantic route Karachi-New York via London in 1961. In 1962, it expanded its fleet by placing orders for Boeing 720s, Fokker F27 Friendships, and Sikorsky helicopters. On 2 January 1962, a PIA Boeing 720B flown by Captain Abdullah Baig from London to Karachi established a world record for speed over a commercial airline route for powered landplanes of 938.78 km/h (582.98 mph), a record which still holds to this day.[13]

From 1962 to 1966, PIA operated its Sikorsky S-61 helicopters for services within East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh).[14] These were retired in 1966 and a reduced network of eight cities was served by Fokker F27 aircraft.[14] 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.[15] 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 the 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 the 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 Hardy Amies.

The later half of the decade witnessed further expansion of PIA's fleet with the introduction of Boeing 747s. During this decade PIA was regarded as Asia's best airline.[16] 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 the United Arab Emirates towards the end of the decade.


PIA Airbus A300 at Fiumicino Airport, circa 1991

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.


In June 1991, the first of six A310-300 aircraft on order was delivered. 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. Farooq Umar handed over PIA to another MD in March 1996, closing his tenure with great success and leaving PIA profitable with a profit for the previous six months 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. A Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft was also leased briefly in 1996 to cope with a 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.


PIA purchased the Scribe Hotel in Paris in 2002.
A Boeing 747 Combi taxing at London's Heathrow Airport, circa 1992
A Boeing 747-300 on finals to Heathrow Airport, circa 2003
PIA ATR 42-500 in Balochistan province tail 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. 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.

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 aircraft directly from Airbus. On 3 November 2005, PIA placed an order to purchase seven ATR 42-500 aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of Fokker F27 Friendships. On 6 December 2005, PIA acquired another new Boeing 777-200ER on a ten-year lease. 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 City, 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). Washington service ended in the 1990s, Houston services ended in 2006, Chicago service ended in 2012, and New York service ended in 2017.

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 ageing aircraft. The ban was imposed following an on-site visit led by Federico Grandini, the European Commission's Air Safety Administrator.[17][18] The fleet of Boeing 777s was exempted from the ban.[19] 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[citation needed]. 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.[20] To avoid such an incident in future, PIA signed a deal to lease seven new Airbus A320-200s. The aircraft were supposed to be delivered during 2008 and 2009 but the deal was cancelled.


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 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 11 August 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 an Airbus A330-300 wet-leased from SriLankan Airlines.[21] The wet-lease period ended after 6 months and as a result, the A330-300 was returned to SriLankan Airlines.[22]

The remaining order for five Boeing 777-300ERs made in 2002 was postponed indefinitely. In January 2017, PIA retired all of the Airbus A310-300s from its fleet. For replacement, PIA leased four Boeing 737-800 from Pegasus Airlines which were returned later on completion of the lease period.

In 2017, PIA decided to replace its reservation and ticketing system "Sabre" with a Turkish origin system called "Hitit". Both PIA & Hiti signed an agreement and in September 2018, the airline successfully switched to the new system.[23][24]

Corporate managementEdit


PIA office 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 Aviation Division . The airline is managed by President & chief executive officer 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 President & chief executive officer 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 privatisation 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 privatisation of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). However, no agreement was reached.[26] The government has had many plans for the privatisation 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 privatisation list. [27]

In 2013, Government of Pakistan once again aimed to privatise the airline due to increased losses by selling twenty-six percent of shares & management control to the investor. This plan was dropped due to heavy protest by airline unions and associations in which two employees were dead when security forces were tasked to stop the protesters for their movement towards Jinnah International Airport terminal building.

In 2018, the newly elected government aimed not to privatise the entity and make it a profitable through the change in its top management.[28]

Financial performanceEdit

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[29][30] 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 replaced 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. 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.[31]

It was reported in April 2019 that PIA had achieved break even in their operational profit, although they have said it will take 3-4 Years to achieve Net Profit, this shows signs of progress for the airline under the new management.

Year Revenues (PKR in Million) Profit/(Loss) (PKR in Million) Employees (Ave.)
2018 (48,000) 13,000 approx.
2017 (44,110)
2016 88,997 (45,381) 14,000 approx.[32]
2015 104,515 (34,995) 15,000
2014 113,780 (34,006) 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's 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 kg of mail. Additionally, PIA's revenue from excess baggage, passenger load factor, and passenger kilometre flow have been declining steadily.[33]

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

In 2011, about 81% of revenue was from passenger traffic and only 5% from cargo. Another 7.8% was from food and beverage sales. The remaining 6% was from various sources such as excess baggage charges, air charter services, aircraft maintenance engineering services, ground handling and related services, and carriage of mail.[30]


As of March 2019, PIA serves 18 domestic and 24 international destinations in 16 countries across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America. Jeddah is a major focus city for the airline, with flights from Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Faisalabad, Multan and Sialkot.

Codeshare agreementsEdit

PIA has Codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[34]

Interline agreementsEdit

PIA have Interline agreements with the following airlines:[34]


A Boeing 777-300ER landing at Heathrow Airport, London (2011)

As of July 2019, the Pakistan International Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft:[35][36]

Pakistan International Airlines Fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
C Y+ Y Total
Airbus A320-200 11 8 161 169 Two aircraft painted in 1960s retro livery
8 162 170
ATR 42-500 4 48 48
ATR 72-500 5 70 70
Boeing 777-200ER 6 35 294 329 One aircraft painted in 1960s retro livery
25 282 307
Boeing 777-200LR 2 35 275 310 Launch customer
Boeing 777-300ER 4 35 358 393
18 40 384 442
Total 32


PIA 1980s legacy tail which became an identity for the airline
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 engine cowlings were painted in beige. 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 English and Urdu PIA titles remained the same. The leased A310s and most of the PIA fleet also adopted this livery at a later date.

PIA livery with "Frontier" tail representing the "Phulkari" (flowering) pattern, which reflected a tradition of embroidery generally done on shawls, shirts, and linen. In 2009 management stopped the application of provincial tails, deeming them too costly.

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. 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 consisted 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 was white and at the rear, it was an off-white/beige colour. The bottom part of the tail blended 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' was written in a billboard style in dark green and underneath 'Pakistan' was written in golden colour. Just behind the cockpit, there is a stylised Urdu PIA logo as well as on the engines.

In July 2014, on the 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, the 1960s livery was applied to three of the Airbus A320s and on one Boeing 777-200ER.

In 2018, Pakistan's national animal Markhor was chosen to be introduced as the brand identity on aircraft tail, however later the Supreme Court of Pakistan took suo motu action and barred PIA from using the Markhor as brand identity, only one Airbus A320 was painted in the livery.

In April 2018, PIA formally introduced a new livery and added a portrait of the Markhor, Pakistan's national animal, on its aircraft, including a large one on the tail and two on the engines, highlighting the country's commitment to preserve the endangered species. The tail had a jumping Markhor having long screw horns. According to the initial plan, a euro-white style was chosen and existing green and golden strips were removed from the aircraft fuselage along with off-white/beige colour on the rear fuselage, but later a major rebranding was carried out. The font of the PIA logo was also changed and added to the fuselage. For the first time, legacy PIA colours (Pakistan green and mustard gold) were dropped and blue texture was added in the "PIA" acronym. Urdu PIA logo colour was also changed from the yellow-green texture. The airline's slogan was also changed to "We Fly at the Right Attitude". The first aircraft with the redesigned livery was to make a debut at the inauguration of the New Islamabad International Airport.[37][38] The rebranding attempt failed due to the highly negative reaction by the public as the national flag on the tail was replaced with an animal logo. The Supreme Court of Pakistan took suo motu notice and barred PIA from using the Markhor logo as its brand identity.[39][40] Currently, the airline is operating a hybrid livery which features a euro-white fuselage and gold Urdu logo in-front of the front exits and engine cowling while the flag tail, English PIA (and Pakistan International in gold) titles in dark green and Pakistan titles in dark green on the belly have been retained from the 2010 livery. The PIA corporate website was also added ahead of the aft exits. Currently five Boeing 777s and three A320s are sporting this livery.

Former fleetEdit

PIA Douglas DC-8 leased 1977–1978
An Airbus A321 taking off from Islamabad Airport (2006)
Aircraft Total Introduced Retired
Airbus A300B4-200 11 1980 2005
Airbus A310-300 12 1991 2016
Airbus A321-200 2 2006 2007
Airbus A330-300 3 2016 2017[21]
Boeing 707-320C 13 1960 1998
Boeing 720B 9 1962 1986
Boeing 737-300 8 1985 2014
Boeing 737-400 2 2004 2005
Boeing 737-800 4 2014 2015
Boeing 747-200B 6 1976 2005
Boeing 747-200B Combi 2 1979 2011
Boeing 747-300 6 1999 2015
Convair CV-240 4 1955 1959
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 8 1970 2001
Douglas DC-3 15 1955 1967
Douglas DC-8-21F 1 1977 1978
Douglas DC-61CF 1 1977 Unknown
Fokker F27-200 Friendship 24 1961 2006
Fokker F27-400 Friendship 1 1961 2003
Fokker F27-600 Friendship 5 1966 1986
Hiller UH-12E4 1 1963 1971
Hawker Siddeley Trident 1E 4 1966 1970
Lockheed L-100-382B-4C Hercules 2 1966 1966
Lockheed L-1049C Super Constellation 3 1954 1969
Lockheed L-1049H Super Constellation 2 1958 1969
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 5 1974 1986
Mil Mi-8 MTV-1 1 1995 1997
Sikorsky S-61N 4 1963 1967
Tupolev Tu-154 4 1996 1997
Vickers Viscount 815 5 1956 1966



PIA's Boeing 777 Business Class.

PIA operates a three-class configuration on its domestic routes: Business, Executive Economy and Economy. On international flights a two class configuration, Executive Economy and Economy class, has been introduced since January 2019. PIA has retained Business Class only on domestic flights operated by Boeing 777s. PIA Business and Executive Economy passengers are offered recliner seats on all Boeing 777 aircraft. Seats with more leg room and vacant middle seat are offered in Executive Economy on board the Airbus A320 aircraft. In Economy Class, all passengers on the Boeing 777 are offered seats with a 30-inch legroom and personal entertainment screens in a 3-3-3 configuration. On the Airbus A320, fabric covered seats in a 3–3 configuration are offered.


PIA Catering is the main supplier of meals for the airline at Islamabad and Karachi. It can produce 15,000 passenger meals each day. In 2006, the management of the flight kitchens was given to Singapore Air Terminal Services (SATS). This agreement ended in 2011 and PIA is managing the Flight Kitchens in Karachi and Islamabad itself. As of April 2019 an MOU was signed between PIA and McDonald's for the airlines catering. PIA Catering provides special meals to allow for passengers' dietary and religious needs. No alcohol beverages and pork are served on board due to Islamic law.[41]

PIA Premier serviceEdit

PIA Premier was launched as a luxury air service on 14 August 2016. An Airbus A330 aircraft was initially wet-leased from SriLankan Airlines to operate the service.[21] There were six weekly flights to London, three each from Islamabad and Lahore.[42] PIA ended the service due to losses and the A330 was returned to SriLankan.[citation needed]

In-flight MagazineEdit

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 bi-monthly.

In-flight EntertainmentEdit

Pakistan International Airlines was the first international airline to introduce entertainment system showing a regularly scheduled film on board in the year 1962.[43][44]

In-flight InternetEdit

In January 2017, the airline began trials on an on-board intranet system to deliver in-flight entertainment on some domestic flights. The system allows passengers to access a selection of in-flight entertainment content using their own mobile devices.[45] PIA offers personal screens on Boeing 777 flights with in-flight movies, music and TV shows. The Boeing 777 IFE also features an inflight map and air show. Selected A320s feature drop down screens with in-flight map and air-show.

Frequent Flyer ProgramEdit

PIA Awards Plus+ is the frequent flyer program. The program allows passengers to get free tickets, excess baggage vouchers, cabin upgrades, and a variety of rewards, special deals, and discounts. 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.

Cargo operationsEdit

A Boeing 707C operating as part of PIA's Cargo division, circa 1978.

PIA operates a cargo delivery system within Pakistan. 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.

During the early 1970s, PIA operated a service called "Air Express" that delivered documents and parcels within Pakistan. In 1974, PIA launched a dedicated cargo division within its organisation using two Boeing 707-320C. This division was known as "Pakistan International Cargo". The airline operated a number of cargo flights to the Middle East such as Dubai and Europe especially London. The operations ended in the late 1990s when both aircraft were phased out. During 2004 to 2007, the airline did again operate two Airbus A300 Freighter aircraft chartered through MNG Airlines to Haan. Luton, Amsterdam, Basel and Cologne. However again the contract ended and PIA discontinued this service.

In 2003, the airline launched "PIA Speedex", a courier service in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad initially. This later expanded twelve cities within a year. Today, the airline offers over 70 locations within Pakistan, with shipments collected and delivered from customers homes.

Corporate sponsorshipEdit

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.[46] 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[47] 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.[48] 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.[49]

PIA has Planetariums in Karachi and Lahore that 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).[50] In 2009, PIA teamed up with the fast-food franchise McDonald's, to offer passengers discounts on meals and upgrades.[51] PIA also owns three hotels, the Roosevelt Hotel, the Scribe Hotel and Skyrooms (Private) Limited.[52] The airline also has an agreement with Pearl Continental Hotels for its UAE based passengers.[53]

Charter and special servicesEdit

Callsign "PAKISTAN 001" carrying the President on PIA's Boeing 707. Photographed at Munich Airport in Germany, circa 1961

Charter servicesEdit

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; PIA Charter Team provides these services.

Hajj and Umrah operationsEdit

PIA operates a two-month (pre- and post-) Hajj operation each year to and from Saudi Arabia. PIA transported over 100,000 intending pilgrims each year to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia until its fleet shrank to 25 aircraft in 2011–2012. Since then, the airline's Hajj quota was reduced to 60,00 to 70,000 pilgrims by the then government.

State officials transportationEdit

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[54][better source needed] 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[55][better source needed] 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.[56]

Accidents and incidentsEdit

Pakistan International Airlines experienced its first recorded hull loss in 1956: a Douglas DC-3 flew into a mountain on 25 February that year while on a cargo flight from Gilgit to Islamabad in poor weather, killing the three crew members on board.[57] Since then the airline has lost more than thirty aircraft in crashes and other events, including another twenty fatal crashes.[58] There have also been at least eight hijacking incidents involving the airline's aircraft between 1971 and 2017.

  • On 1 July 1957, a Douglas DC-3 registered AP-AJS, operating a domestic flight from Chittagong to Dhaka in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), crashed on a mudflat in the Bay of Bengal, killing all twenty passengers and four crew members on board.[59]
  • On 15 May 1958, a Convair CV-240 with the registration AP-AEH, operating as Flight 205 from Delhi to Karachi, crashed and caught fire moments after it took off from Delhi's Palam Airport on a moonless night in dusty conditions. The investigation attributed the crash to the captain experiencing a night somatogravic illusion, resulting in the aircraft descending shortly after it became airborne. Four of the six crew members and twenty-one of the thirty-eight passengers on board were killed; two people on the ground were also killed.[60]
  • On 18 May 1959, a four-month-old Vickers Viscount with the registration AP-AJC was damaged beyond economic repair in a landing accident at Islamabad International Airport. The aircraft ran off the runway into a rainwater channel; there were no fatalities.[61]
  • Three months after the first Viscount crash, the airline lost another on 14 August 1959. The Viscount (registered AP-AJE) crashed at Karachi International Airport during a pilot training flight, while attempting an overshoot with two engines inoperative. Two of the three people on board were killed.[62]
  • On 26 March 1965 a Douglas DC-3 registered AP-AAH crashed in mountainous terrain near the Lowari Pass on a domestic flight from Peshawar to Chitral, killing the four crew members and eighteen of the twenty-two passengers on board.[63]
The memorial tablet at the crash site in Cairo for those who died on PIA Flight 705 on 20 May 1965
  • Eight weeks later on 20 May 1965, a Boeing 720 operating as Flight 705 crashed while descending to land on Runway 34 at Cairo International Airport, resulting in 121 fatalities.
  • On 8 October 1965 a Fokker F27 Friendship, with less than 500 hours' flying time since it was delivered new to the airline earlier in the year, crashed while on a domestic cargo flight from Rawalpindi to Skardu. The aircraft, registered AP-ATT, hit a ridge near the village of Patian and slid down its side, the remains coming to rest more than 1,000 feet (300 m) below the impact point. The four crew members on board were killed.[64]
  • On 2 February 1966 Flight 17, operated by a Sikorsky S-61 helicopter, crashed on a scheduled domestic flight in East Pakistan after the main gearbox failed, killing 23 of the 24 passengers and crew on board.
  • On 6 August 1970, a Fokker F27 Friendship registered AP-ALM, operating a domestic flight from Rawalpindi to Lahore, crashed at high speed a few minutes after taking off from Lahore in stormy weather. All twenty-six passengers and four crew members on board were killed.[65]
  • On 6 December 1972, a Fokker F27 Friendship registered AP-AUS, operating a domestic flight between Gilgit and Rawalpindi in rainy weather as Flight 631, crashed in mountainous terrain. There were no survivors among the twenty-two passengers and four crew members on board.[66]
  • On 20 January 1978, a PIA aircraft at Karachi with 22 passengers on board was hijacked by a gunman who asked to be flown to India. The then chairman of PIA, Air Marshal (Retd) Nur Khan boarded the aircraft to negotiate with the hijacker. He received a gunshot wound while trying to disarm the hijacker but still managed to overpower him.[67][68]
  • On 26 November 1979 Flight 740 was a Boeing 707-320C that crashed after takeoff from Jeddah International Airport for a flight to Karachi, resulting in 156 fatalities.
  • On 2 March 1981 Flight 326 was hijacked 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.[69][better source needed]
  • On 23 October 1986, a Fokker F27 aircraft crashed during approach to Peshawar Airport. Of the 54 passengers and crew on board, 13 were killed in the accident.[70]
  • On 4 February 1986, a Boeing 747 registered as AP-AYW made a belly landing at Islamabad Airport around 9:00 am. The aircraft was operating Flight 300 from Karachi with 247 passengers and 17 crew members on board. Everyone survived this accident caused by pilot error.[71][better source needed]
  • On 25 August 1989, a Fokker F27 operating as Flight 404 crashed into a mountain after taking off from Gilgit Airport. All 54 passengers and crew on board were killed.[72]
  • On 28 September 1992 Flight 268, an Airbus Airbus A300B4-200 registration AP-BCP, crashed on approach to Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport. All 167 on board were killed.
  • On 25 May 1998 a Fokker F27 Friendship operating as Flight 544 was hijacked. All passengers and crew escaped unhurt during the incident.
  • On 10 July 2006 Flight 688, a Fokker F27 operating from Multan to Lahore and then to Islamabad, crashed in a field.[73] after bursting into flames a few minutes after takeoff[74] from Multan International Airport. All 41 passengers and 4 crew members on board were killed.
  • On 31 August 2012, ATR 42–500 registration AP-BHJ, operating Flight 653 from Islamabad to Lahore, was landing at Allama Iqbal International Airport when it undershot the runway and came to rest on a grassy area on the right side of Runway 36R. There were no fatalities among the 42 passengers and 4 crew members. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair and withdrawn from service.[75][better source needed]
  • On 11 February 2013, a Boeing 737 aircraft registered AP-BEH was operating Flight 259 from Islamabad to Muscat via Sialkot when its port side main landing gear collapsed during landing at Muscat International Airport. There were no fatalities among the 107 passengers and 7 crew members on board the aircraft. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair and withdrawn from service
  • On 24 June 2014 Airbus A310-300 registration AP-BGN was operating Flight 756 from Riyadh to Peshawar with 178 passengers and 12 crew members on board, when hit by gunfire during its landing approach at Bacha Khan International Airport, Peshawar. The aircraft landed safely but one passenger was killed and two crew members were injured. The aircraft was damaged but it was later ferried to Karachi for repair.[76]
  • On 7 December 2016, Flight 661, operated by an ATR 42–500 aircraft registered AP-BHO, crashed in Havelian, Pakistan while en route from Chitral to Islamabad, killing all 47 on board, including Junaid Jamshed.[77]

See alsoEdit


  • Laurence Urdang; Ceila Dame Robbins (1 January 1984), Slogans, Gale Research Company, p. 36, ISBN 978-0-81-031549-5


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External linksEdit

  Media related to Pakistan International Airlines at Wikimedia Commons