ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been allowed to operate direct flights to the United States for the first time in its history.
According to a letter from the US Department of Transportation, the permit will take effect on April 29, 2020, and expire on April 29, 2021. PIA can operate a dozen two-way or one-way passenger and cargo flights during this period.
In this regard, the PIA spokesman said that before the 9/11 attacks in the United States, PIA planes did not have the capability to fly directly to the United States, so they had to stop somewhere.
He added that after the 9/11 attacks, the United States had refused to allow direct flights due to security concerns.
According to the letter, PIA passengers or cargo will be required to notify the US Department of Transportation in writing within 5 days before or after the flight.
If PIA has to fly from outside Pakistan, it has to inform the Transportation Department in writing about the route 3 days in advance.
Similarly, if an airline flies from an airport outside Pakistan, it must obtain security clearance from the Department of Transportation Security, in addition to the aircraft flying to the United States must have virtual documentation from the Department of Transportation.
In addition to these conditions, the PIA will be required to comply with the standards and regulations of the relevant U.S. departments, including the Federal Administration and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The airline will also have to comply with US government security requirements.
According to the letter, the two planes that were allowed to enter the United States are:
Boeing Model No. B777-240LR, Serial No. 33781 Registration No. AP-BGY
Boeing Model No. B777-240LR, Serial No. 33782 Registration No. AP-BGZ
It may be recalled that last week, Pakistan had sought permission from the United States to operate special PIA flights to bring back Pakistanis stranded there due to the Coronavirus epidemic.
In this regard, PIA Chief Executive Officer Air Marshal Arshad Malik had also written a letter to the US Embassy in Islamabad seeking permission to operate special flights.
He said the Covid 19 epidemic had created a situation that required immediate air service for the return of stranded citizens of both countries, so the PIA was seeking approval to resume flights to the United States.
Air Marshal Arshad Malik had said that PIA has a valid foreign carrier permit and through its legal representatives has also submitted an application to the US Department of Transportation for a new security authority.
It may be recalled that PIA never operated direct flights from Pakistan to the United States but its flights were obtained with security clearance from airports in Europe or the United Kingdom as no direct flights were allowed.
Regarding the permission for direct flights to the United States, Air Marshal Arshad Malik said that PIA would operate relief flights to the United States where thousands of Pakistanis are waiting for flights.
The CEO said that PIA would also bring back the bodies of Pakistanis who died abroad without any compensation.
Arshad Malik said that PIA is a national institution and national institutions do not back down in the service of Pakistan like a family member in times of trouble.
He clarified that the PIA air operation would continue till the return of the last Pakistani stranded abroad.
In this regard, PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez said that permission for direct flights was a reflection of the improvement in the security situation in the country, government policy, and PIA's security measures.
He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had personally taken steps to operate flights from the United States and repatriate Pakistanis stranded there as soon as possible.
According to the PIA spokesperson, CEO Arshad Malik especially thanked the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Minister of Aviation, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their cooperation and efforts in this regard.