The United States Department of Transportation has granted permission to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the national flag carrier of Pakistan to conduct direct flights to the US, the airline’s spokesman Abdullah Hafeez confirmed.
A communique issued by the US Department of Transportation allowed Pakistan International Airlines to operate 12 flights in a month. The permission will expire on April 29, 2021.
This is the very first time PIA will be operating its direct flights to the US. Before 9/11, PIA had no planes and the capacity to fly directly to the US which made them to make a technical stop somewhere. So, this will be the first time that the national carrier will be operating direct flights to the US, Hafeez said.
Previously, PIA had to pass through security checks at airports in Europe and Britain before entering the United States – owing to the latter’s security regulations.
The spokesman also said that the airline had no planes and capacity to fly directly to the US prior to the 9/11 terror attack when after the twin tower attacks the US authorities banned direct flights from Pakistan due to security up until now.
The terror attacks in the USA killed 2,977 people, including 40 Indians, when al-Qaeda terrorists crashed hijacked planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.
PIA will be bound to inform the transportation department, in writing, of the route it took for any passenger or cargo-chartered flights no less than five business days after the operation.
For any passenger flight, which is headed to the US from a destination outside Pakistan, the PIA will have to inform, in writing, the transportation department of the route it is taking three business days before the operation.
Owing to security concerns, the USA had not allowed any direct flight that originated from a Pakistani airport into its airspace. In October 2017, the PIA discontinued its flights to the US because of rising operational costs and in a bid to cut losses it had been facing.
However, PIA officials had been trying to obtain clearance from the US and negotiations had been underway for the past two years. In March this year, a US Transportation Security Administration team visited Pakistan.
Apart from the above conditions, PIA must also comply with the rules and regulations set by other concerned US departments, including the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as the International Civil Aviation Organization’s standards.
The airline must also comply with all ‘US government requirements concerning security’.
The aircraft allowed to enter the US are:
- Boeing’s model B777-240LR, serial number 33781 (registration number AP-BGY)
- Boeing model B777-240LR, serial number 33782 (registration number AP-BGZ)