Once upon a time, Pakistan International Airlines was one of the greatest airlines. They would be everywhere—in the media, around the globe, and in every airport. Starting a list of PIA’s accomplishments would take an eternity. The airline relocated to Pakistan after the 1947 Partition and created a crucial connection between Dhaka and Karachi. Pakistan’s government nationalized Orient Airways in 1955 and combined it with other airlines to become Pakistan International Airlines.
Since its establishment, PIA has won several awards in the aviation industry. Around 39 years ago, in 1981, PIA’s 762 weekly flights used to depart or land every six minutes at 62 destinations on four continents. Up to at least 1981, PIA operated a fleet of B747, DC-10, A-300, and 707 aircraft, with an average of 109 departures per day. The first Asian airline to use the Lockheed Super Constellation was this one (an American propeller-driven and four-engine aircraft). It was the second Asian airline to purchase a jet aircraft, a Boeing-707. In 1961, the airline launched its first transatlantic flight, Karachi to New York via London, using a Boeing-707 it had leased from Pan American Airlines. The following was formerly said in a PIA advertisement from December 1968 honoring the airline’s successful decade from 1958 to 1968: “In 1958, about 200 passengers used to fly by PIA. The number increased dramatically to nearly a million travelers in 1968. In a different 1969 campaign, the capable PIA aircraft engineers were credited for helping to create the airline’s excellent norm of 97.7% on-time arrivals.
The PIA employed well-known national and international clothing designers like Feroze Cowasji, Pierre Cardin, and Sir Hardy Amies to create the costumes worn by its flight attendants during those glorious days when 44 airlines and agencies used to bring their crews there for training. Midway through the 1980s, PIA played a crucial role in the development of Emirates, a Dubai-based airline, by leasing two of its aircraft, the Airbus A300 and Boeing 737, as well as offering technical and managerial support to the new company. The personnel of the Emirates at its academy received technical and administrative assistance from PIA as well. According to the number of people it transports internationally, Emirates is now the fourth-largest airline in the world.
On February 1, 1955, PIA launched its first flight between Karachi and London through Cairo, and by the mid-1980s, it had assisted in the founding of Emirates Airlines. It is crucial to remember that on April 29, 1964, PIA became the first non-communist airline to travel between Asia and Europe through Moscow and conduct a route to the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai. It was the first airline in the world to introduce the Boeing 777-200LR, the commercial aircraft with the longest range. It was the first airline in South Asia to allow customers to reserve seats using a mobile phone.
Over the years, the political situation in Pakistan has cost PIA a lot of money. While PIA lagged, other airlines like Airblue and Shaheen Air climbed to new heights. Even though PIA is in terrible shape, all hope is not lost. Selling the airline is not the last option. Instead, it will be able to stand once again after a successful reformation. Privatization will not work in a developing nation like Pakistan, where the private sector is more dishonest and corrupt. Privatization inevitably leads to the deterioration of a national asset that was already doing poorly. Last but not least, our political leaders must demonstrate the greatest level of persistent dedication to their responsibilities. They need to prioritize the interests of the country before their own. They do need to prioritize the interests of the country before their own. The only way to strengthen state institutions like the PIA and, eventually, the state itself, is for them to take all necessary measures to protect the national interest.