From the start, air travel was an indispensable necessity to connect the two wings which constituted Pakistan till 1971. In fact, Pakistan’s first airline was formed even before the birth of the country itself. Orient Airways — where PIA’s roots lie —began operations between Calcutta and Rangoon ten months before independence. Following independence it easily took on the responsibility of linking East and West Pakistan.
Orient Airways operated successfully till 1954. By then, it needed major expan-sion in fleet, modernization of aircraft and extension of routes to compete with international carriers. The Government of Pakistan decided to take over civil aviation and Pakistan International Airlines was formed as a department of the Ministry of Defence. Orient Airways merged into PIA, which became a Corporation by an Act of Government in 1955. In February 1955 PIA started international operations with a Super-Constellation service between Karachi and London. In 1960 it became the first Asian airline to fly pure jet aircraft with a leased Boeing 707; it was the first Asian airline to receive transit rights in Moscow and the first non-communist carrier to fly to Peking. PIA is also one of the few airlines in the world to make a profit regularly. To promote civil aviation within Pakistan PIA popularised air travel with a ‘no frills’ coach service, reduced fares, introduced jet air-craft on domestic routes and modernized airport in small towns. Today PIA is prominent among international airlines. It flies to 61 cities in 4 continents and has a rapidly growing fleet of B747s, DC l0s, and soon the Airbus A300 will be inducted into service; It has acquired sophisticated engineering and training facilities and offers these services to 29 other airlines.
To keep pace with increasing passengers, fleet and freight, PIA is constructing million dollar facilities which include a computerised reservations and check-in system, a new terminal which is already in operation at Karachi Airport, a wide-body aircraft hanger, larger booking offices, a cargo terminal and extensive catering services.
As Pakistan’s biggest corporation PIA contributes significantly to the socio-economic progress of the country by providing the transportation facilities for passengers and mail; by promoting sports, encouraging tourism industry, building hotels, running poultry breeding farms and increasing trade. As the flag carrier, it is helping to make Pakistan better known round the world.
To commemorate 25 years of PIA service, Pakistan Post Office is issuing a postage stamp of Re I denomination on 10th January 1980.