Placed among the leading airlines of the world, Pakis-tan International Airlines rose to the present position from rather humble beginnings. At the time of independence, air services within Pakistan were provided by Orient Air-ways, an organization formed in 1946. Orient Airways generally laid the found-ation of a modern air transport system in Pakistan. With a view to coping with the ever-increasing demands of internal air travel, Pakistan International Airlines was organized in 1951 as a Government Department with three Super-Constellations. In June 1954, the first direct non-stop service between Karachi and Dacca had begun and a year later P.I.A., became a Corporation. The Karachi-London international service commenced in February, 1955.
The turning point in the history of the airline occurred with the advent of the new regime. P.I.A., is now a vast organization. It has linked arms with the major airlines in interna-tional competition and 90 per cent of its services, throughout its intricate network, are reported to depart on time. P.I.A., was the first Asian carrier to enter the pure-jet field in that in March, 1960, it brought into service Boeing 707 on its interna-tional route. The Karachi-London-New York ser-vice commenced on June 16, 1961.
P.I.A.’s fleet consists of five classes of aircraft. The pure-jet Boeing 707 Interconinenta1, operat-ing on international routes; the new Boeing 720-B operating on international and inter-wing routes; the radar-equipped four-engine turbo-prop jet Viscount-815 operating the domestic routes within West Pakistan and the regional routes to Bombay and Delhi in India; the radar-equipped twin-engine turbo-prop jet Fokker F-27 operating a regular service within East Pakistan and India and Burma and a number of short-haul sectors in West Pakistan; the four-engine Super Constella-tion C’s and H’s operating the inter-wing services between Karachi and Dacca and Lahore and Dacca and the dependable work-horse the DC-3 operating the air-bus routes in East Pakistan.
P.I.A’s main base is at Karachi from where its intercontinental services, the services between the two wings, regional routes to India and those linking the major industrial, historical and tourist centers and health resorts are operated. In Rawal-pindi, the new seat of the Central Government, there is a sub-base, from where essential supplies are flown into the otherwise inaccessible moun-tainous regions in the extreme north. From Dacca. domestic routes within the East wing and those linking Calcutta and Rangoon fan out. Dacca also serves as a sub-base for operating the inter-wing services to Lahore. Chittagong, a com-mercial centre and the chief port of East Pakistan, is linked by regular services with Dacca in the domestic sector and with Rangoon and Calcutta in the regional sector. There are also low-fare air bus services operating the feeder routes within East Pakistan where on account of the riparian nature of the country communication by surface transport is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.