Pakistan International Airlines has operated a historic first direct flight to the USA on 31 March. After this historic flight, a PIA Boeing 777-240LR is now on its way to the American city of Chicago. This special flight took off from Islamabad International Airport on 13 June 2020 and will return from Chicago on 14 June 2020. This was made possible after the United States Department of transport specially allowed Pakistan International airlines to operate up to 12 special relief flights directly to the United States.
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Pakistan International served Chicago O’Hare and Houston in prior years. The carrier launched Chicago initially in May 2003, on a weekly basis with a stopover in Birmingham, U.K. using an Airbus A310. It later moved its stopover to Manchester in April 2004. The Chicago service was suspended in August 2007, when the European Union banned PIA’s A310s and 747s, but resumed it in May 2010, with a stopover in Barcelona, using a Boeing 777-200ER. Chicago was canceled again in March 2012.
PIA initially operated these special flights indirectly by first flying to Toronto, Canada, or carrying forward a flight from the United Kingdom. It is important to note that PIA has been flying to the United States of America since 1961. Last time PIA had to stop flying to Chicago due to the European Union ban on its fleet so it had to divert its fleet to other routes. PIA restarted Chicago flight via Barcelona on 2nd June 2010. But this flight was suspended.
In February 1960, PIA wet-leased a Boeing 707 from Pan American airlines and became the first Asian airline to induct and commercially operate a jet aircraft in its fleet. PIA introduced its first trans-Atlantic flight between Karachi and New York, but this was not a nonstop direct flight and it used to stop at London. The inaugural flight took off on 5 May 1961 but it was suspended in February 1963.
It is important to note that this is an interim decision to facilitate stranded passengers in both countries.
Pakistan International Airlines has formally requested US authorities to allow it to operate non stop flights to bring back stranded Pakistanis. In 1961 PIA started flying to the united states via London Heathrow using its newly acquired Boeing 707 aircraft. PIA wet-leased a Boeing 707 from Pan American Airlines. Initially, this plane was flown by PanAm pilots, thereby making PIA the first Asian airline to induct and commercially operate a jet aircraft in its fleet. An all-Pakistani crew began operation of the 707 from 20 June 1960 onwards.
2 PIA aircraft that are allowed to enter the US
- Boeing’s model B777-240LR, serial number 33781 (registration number AP-BGY)
- Boeing model B777-240LR, serial number 33782 (registration number AP-BGZ)
With the newly acquired aircraft, the airline introduced its first trans-Atlantic route Karachi-New York via London on 5 May 1961. Before the 9/11 attacks, PIA planes did not have the capacity to fly directly to the US, which is why they had to make a stop somewhere. But after 9/11 US authorities did not allow PIA to resume direct flights because of security reasons. In 2004 PIA received its first Boeing 777s that technically enabling it to operate nonstop transatlantic flights. In February and march of 2006, PIA received its pair of Boeing 777-200 LR (Lone range) aircraft. With the specific intention of flying non stop to the US. Both wordliners AP-BGY and AP-BGZ are only be allowed to operate these special flights.
According to a letter by the US Department of Transportation, dated April 29, PIA will be allowed to operate twelve round-trip or one-way passenger or cargo flights. The permission will expire on April 29, 2021.