“If the Wright brothers were alive today, Wilbur would have to fire Orville to reduce costs.”

-Herb Kelleher

In 1946, when Jinnah realized the need for a national carrier, Orient Airways was formed with the financial help of businessmen Mirza Ahmed Ispahani and Adamjee Dawood. Hence, the origins of the national carrier precede those of Pakistan by a year. In 1955, after merging with the government-proposed airline, Orient Airways became the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). Ever since its formation, PIA remained a star airline. From the finest pilots to the highly skilled technicians and well-educated cabin crew who displayed the highest level of professionalism, PIA was not only a national pride but was also equally admired internationally. The airline was a favorite of former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy who was highly impressed by the quality of its services. Despite being among the five best airlines ever since its formation, PIA reached the peak of its glory in the 1970s when it was declared as the best airline in Asia. When Emirates was formed in 1985, PIA pilots and cabin crew operated its first few planes and PIA engineers provided additional technical support to the airline, along with training and developing the Emirates staff. Ironically, three decades later, Emirates has been repeatedly declared as the number one airline in the world while PIA is in a constant state of decline.

The pride that Pakistanis had always associated with the national carrier has only turned into nostalgia in the past two decades. There is perhaps little that Pakistanis would treasure more than a revival of PIA to its former glory days. However, without an intensive training of the PIA staff, increased accountability and strict action against corruption and nepotism in its operation, this may remain a distant dream.