About PIA






Birth of a Nation, Birth of an Airline
Air transport has probably never been more important to the development of a new nation than in the case of Pakistan. In June 1946, when Pakistan was still in the offing, Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the Founder of the upcoming nation, instructed Mr. M.A. Ispahani, a leading industrialist, to set up a national airline, on a priority basis. With his singular vision and foresight, Mr. Jinnah realized that with the formation of the two wings of Pakistan, separated by 1100 miles, a swift and efficient mode of transport was imperative.

Orient Airways Takes to the Skies
On 23rd October 1946, a new airline was born. Initially registered as a pilot project in Calcutta, Orient Airways Ltd. had at its helm Mr. M.A. Ispahani as Chairman and Air Vice Marshal O.K. Carter as General Manager. The new carrier's base remained in Calcutta and an operating license was obtained in May 1947.

Four Douglas DC-3s were purchased from Tempo of Texas in February 1947 and operations commenced on 4th June 1947. The designated route for Orient Airways was Calcutta-Akyab-Rangoon, which also happened to be the first post-war international sector to be flown by an airline registered in India. Within two months of Orient Airways' operational beginnings, Pakistan was born. The birth of a new nation generated one of the largest transfers of population in the history of mankind.

Orient Airways, along with the help of BOAC aircraft which had been chartered by the Government of Pakistan, started relief operations and transportation of people between Delhi and Karachi, the two capitals. Subsequently, Orient Airways transferred its base to Pakistan and established a vital link between Karachi and Dacca, the two capitals of the two wings of Pakistan. With a skeleton fleet of just two DC-3s, three crew members, and twelve mechanics, Orient Airways launched its scheduled operations in a fairy-tale manner. The initial routes were Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar, Karachi-Quetta-Lahore and Karachi-Delhi Calcutta-Dacca. By the end of 1949, Orient Airways had acquired 10 DC-3s and 3 Convair 240s which were operated on these routes. In 1950, it had become increasingly apparent that additional capacity would have to be inducted to cater to the growing needs of the sub-continent.

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