PIA: Pride of the Nation! Who knew?
You know there’s this airline in Pakistan which says “You’ll never get bored on a flight with us” and true to this, it makes sure none of its passengers forget their experience of traveling by it. Since the moment you step inside of it and look at the annoying person (you’re destined to have an irritating creature beside you there) seated right next to you, you just wish it goes through to be a tolerable journey. The plane takes-off and after a while you feel this tickling sensation in your feet and think it must be the magic of this airline in complete awe, just to realize it’s someone from the unofficial crew of the plane, the mice. (Yes, the airline champions animal and human equality by giving a ride to mice in their planes without any cost. Now, ain’t that sweet!).
We aren’t unfamiliar with the horrors of a PIA flight- as have been proudly pointed out by the dangerously free and efficient media of Pakistan, especially in the last one decade.
But let me remind you that once upon a time; on 11th March 1955, happened the birth of this very brilliant airline named Pakistan International Airlines. Not only was it made during a time when the young country of Pakistan was staggering for stability but PIA also achieved many feats during a short span in air: In March 1960, PIA became the first Asian airline to use jet aircraft when Boeing 707 services were introduced. One of PIA’s Boeing 720s broke a world record that year, when it flew from London to Karachi non-stop in 6 hours and 43 minutes and 51 seconds during its delivery flight from Seattle, a record unbroken to this day. Also in 1978 the airline provided help to Somali Airlines, Air Malta and Yemenia and established a hotel management service in the United Arab Emirates. PIA leased two of its own Boeing 720s to Air Malta during the 70s.
Here is what our PIA was known for a while back:
• First airline in the world to operate scheduled helicopter services.
• First Asian airline to land in Norway
• First non-Communist airline to land in China
• First airline in the world to take delivery of the Boeing 777-200LR Worldliner (Longer Range Variant).
• First airline in Pakistan to operate a flight with an all female crew at command and in the cabin.
• First airline in the world to operate the Boeing 777-200ER, 777-200LR and 777-300ER altogether – all the three variants available on the market at the time.
• In 2005, the airline was awarded the IATA Operational Safety Registration (IOSA).
• PIA was given the first place award for the biggest volume increase in 2006, by Frankfurt Airport Authority.
• First airline to take delivery of the Boeing 777–200 Longer Range Variant.
• PIA was given three domestic awards in 2008: The “Brands of the Year” Award, “Consumers Choice Award” and “One The Best Airlines Award (Cargo)”.
• PIA was awarded a shield by Presidency of Civil Aviation in Saudi Arabia in recognition of distinguished Passenger Services compared to other airlines conducting Hajj operations 2009–2010 at Jeddah.
As patriotic Pakistanis, we all pray for an early recovery of PIA and that may Allah guide it to the straight path and resuscitate it.