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In 1947, a new nation was formed. And as every nation-state, it needed institutions. It needed machinery. And like every state at that time, it needed an airline. Air transport and all development in air transport was a benchmark of a nation’s progress back then and even now. And in the case of Pakistan, it was outright essential. Pakistan had two wings. East and West. Both had a huge landmass between them and air travel, fast, efficient and systematic was needed on an urgent basis. Thus, Pakistan International Airlines was born. It would soon become an air carrier with international distinction. It would be known for its glamour and charisma. Its safety reputation would be unmatched. Its records would be unbroken.

Regardless of what’s the state of the said airline today, we discuss the origins of Pakistan International Airlines in this short article.

Read More: Pakistan International Airlines comes out of losses.


In October 1946, Calcutta saw the birth of Orient Airways Limited. Its base was in the city of its birth and it obtained its license in May of 1947. Leading the charge was Mirza Ahmed Ispahani, an Indian businessman at the time with much prominence.

Thus, MA Ispahani became the chairman of Orient Airways. They started with four DC-3s. Which later increased to 10 DC-3’s in 1950. Orient Airways also performed a role in the relief operation during the mass migration and violence that took place due to the 1947 partition. After the 1950s, it was realized that Orient Airways which was a private company, could not grow with the rate that was demanded. So a merger was proposed by the Pakistani Government.

Pakistan International Airlines Corporation.

In 1955, a new airline was born out of the PIAC Ordinance. And Orient Airways became one with it. One big head start PIA had was because of Orient Airways

well trained pilots as well as established maintenance facilities because of the past years of operation. So PIA had a solid footing to take off.

Through the late 1950’s and initial 1960’s, PIA had a fleet comprising of iconic aircraft such as the Lockheed Constellations, Convairs, Viscounts and DC-3 Dakotas. MA Ispahani was the chairman of the new carrier. A PIA head office building was established in Karachi Airport. This would become the base for one of the most elegant airlines to grace the 1960’s and 1970’s.

You might know it as the ‘golden age of PIA’. PIA would later proceed to get many trophies. Including the first airline to operate a Jet aircraft. A Boeing 707. The fastest flight between Karachi and London. First non-communist airline to land in communist China. PIA became a symbol of elegance, class, and glamor.

It is sad to see the present state of the airline. But there’s always hope. And there’s always talks about revival.

Read More: C172 of PIA made Crash Landing near Karachi

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