Pakistan International Airlines is the government-owned national flag carrier of the country. Based in Karachi, it operates on several domestic and international routes. In an urge to increase its market share and take advantage of United States travel demand, PIA is reconsidering to launch direct New York flights from Islamabad International Airport. Since the induction of Boeing 777 aircraft in 2004, the airline was optimistic about starting direct flights to and from Pakistan. TSA – Transport Security Administration never allowed PIA to operate direct flights from Pakistan. However, the return flights from the US were directly connecting Pakistan to the United States.
Why did PIA stop flying to the US?
During its time of glory, PIA used to fly to the US’s different hubs, including New York, Chicago, Houston, and D.C Washington. Despite operating two flights a week to New York, PIA was suffering from ample operating loss. The reason behind this loss was the unavailability of modish onboard products, the stopover in Manchester for passengers rescreening, and low yield generation due to dominant gulf competitors. Owing to these revenue deducting reasons, PIA stopped flying to New York back in October 2017.
PIA Plans of Reviving Direct New York Flights
In 2019, PIA disclosed its avid plans to resume direct flights from Islamabad International Airport and New York. Superficially, it seems like the national carrier aims to add prestige to its country by flying on one of the most desirable routes. But in fact, this plan is a tool to get PIA out of the consistent loss by making money through flying this lucrative route. In the past, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) banned PIA flights due to the lack of sufficient security and safety management systems. That’s the reason PIA used to have a stopover at Manchester for passengers rescreening before entering the US. The involvement of the third point made this route quite unviable to operate.
During the pandemic, PIA did operate a one-off direct flight from Islamabad to Newark. A Boeing 777-200LR operated this direct flight. This was the first time that a PIA airliner landed on US soil originating directly from Pakistan.
Establishment of Islamabad International Airport Electrified this Plan
Now, PIA is confident in its safe and secure execution of flights after the establishment of New Islamabad International Airport. Therefore, it hopes to revive successful non-stop flights to New York as Islamabad International Airport is extensively equipped with security gadgets and safety procedures. Such universally standardized security checks and safety procedures require no more demand PIA to stop over at Manchester for further security grants. Hence PIA is planning zealously to operate this route as removing the third point will make this route economically viable.
Unstable Present May Distort Future Plans of PIA
This brainchild of resuming flights to New York gives rise to different questions. For instance, would PIA be able to eradicate its notorious image of getting banned from Europe after its recent crash in May 2020? Would the US Transport Security Administration allow to resume these flights after getting banned from Europe as well? Even on getting approval grants, would PIA be able to conduct these flights with its old B777 fleet on beneficial terms? If PIA satisfies travelers’ safety-related concerns and strategy of business expansion, this dream will reach its destination.
Image Credits: Ali Yazdani @ Plane Spotters Pakistan