‘No imminent plan’ for Pak-US direct flights

ISLAMABAD – There are no imminent plans for direct flights between Pakistan and the United States, said a US embassy statement yesterday.

This week, officials from the Transportation Security Administration, the US government agency that oversees airport and air carrier security, travelled to Pakistan. 

“They visited Islamabad’s new airport, viewed Pakistan’s aviation security infrastructure, and met with their Pakistani civil aviation counterparts,” said a US embassy statement.

“During the visit to the Islamabad airport, representatives from the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority and the Ministry of Aviation highlighted the airport’s security features. This visit was not a formal inspection, audit, or assessment of any specific airport and there are no imminent plans for direct flights between Pakistan and the United States,” said the statement.

Speaking of his interactions in Pakistan, TSA Regional Director Jason Schwabel noted: “Secure international air travel is essential to facilitate trade and connections.  We look forward to deepening our relationship with the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority as we explore additional areas of cooperation.”

The trip was organized as part of the US Mission’s ongoing efforts to strengthen economic ties between the US and Pakistan and enhance regional connectivity. 

In October 2017, Pakistan International Airlines stopped flying to New York, which was their only destination in the US at the time. The airline had flown to the US for over 50 years, and over time flew to New York, Chicago, and Houston.

The airline was allegedly losing about $12 million per year flying to the US in spite of the fact that the route only operated twice per week.

PIA was at a disadvantage in many ways. Their onboard product was outdated, with angled seats in business class. The airline was not able to operate nonstop flights to the US due to safety reasons, so the flight had to fly from Pakistan to Manchester to New York, with passengers being rescreened in Manchester.

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