Islamabad: In a first, US State Department of Transportation has granted permission to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate direct flights, the airline's spokesman Abdullah Hafeez confirmed. Hafeez said before the 9/11 attacks, PIA planes did not have the permission to fly directly to the US, which is why they had to make a stop somewhere.
After the attacks, US authorities had refused permission for direct flights because of security reasons, The Dawn quoted him as saying. PIA will be allowed to operate 12 round-trip or one-way passenger or cargo flights. The permission will expire on April 29, 2021. PIA will be bound to inform the transportation department, in writing, of the route it took for any passenger or cargo chartered flights no less than five business days after the operation.
For any passenger flight, which is headed to the US from a destination outside Pakistan, PIA will have to inform, in writing, the transportation department of the route it is taking three business days before the operation. If the airline chooses to operate or change the route of a flight less than three business days before its planned departure, it can request the department to waive off the requirement "upon a showing of good cause".
In case a PIA flight is headed to the US from an airport outside Pakistan, it must obtain a security clearance from the Transportation Security Administration. Furthermore, the aircraft flying to the US must have the authorisation document issued by the transportation department. Apart from the above conditions, PIA must also comply with the rules and regulations set by other concerned US departments, including the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as the International Civil Aviation Organisation's standards.
The airline must also comply with all "US government requirements concerning security". In October 2017, the PIA discontinued its flights to the US because of rising operational cost and in a bid to cut losses it had been facing.