Karachi: PIA has been granted a Special Permission to operate direct flights to United States of America’s to repatriate stranded citizens. It will be the first occasion whereby PIA has been allowed to operate non-stop across the Atlantic and its welcoming news to all ears. An authorization letter has been issued by Department of Transport with clearance from US department of Transportation as Special Permission.
CEO PIA Air Marshal Arshad Malik had earlier formally requested US Authorities for operating repatriation flights directly to the US. This came after exhaustive back channel work by the PIA management, involving highest levels of the Government, Foreign Offices and Diplomatic Missions and shows warming relationship between Trump administration and Imran Khan led Pakistani government. The permission also highlights that US government support in coming to the aide of stranded Pakistani citizens in the US in the time of need.
MOFA & US diplomatic mission in Pakistan played a pivotal role in this matter.
PIA had stopped its operations to the US in October 2017. Earlier, PIA used to operate flights to USA with a mandatory stopover on TSA cleared airports in UK or Europe for security clearance. This is the first time that PIA has been allowed to operate direct flights. The direct flights authorization comes after a series of TSA team visits to Pakistan examining preparedness of the country’s airports and overall airline’s security apparatus and procedures.
Speaking on the occasion, CEO PIA Air Marshal Arshad Malik expressed deepest gratitude to the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan whose personal interest was fundamental in getting this coordination done and also the Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan and officials of Foreign Ministry in making this extraordinary feat possible. He also reiterated his stance that PIA will always make all efforts to serve this great nation and will leave no stone unturned to fulfill its obligation towards national service, including bringing home all the stranded citizens abroad. He also said that PIA will transport the human remains of deceased Pakistanis free of cost.
PIA has been allowed to operate 12 direct flights to the US in one year time frame starting from 29 April 2020.