KARACHI: US Consul General in Karachi Her Excellency JoAnne Wagner on Wednesday assured the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) of help in facilitating it a direct access to the American mainland.
The assurance came during a meeting with Ms Wagner when PIA chief Air Marshal Arshad Malik requested her to facilitate the PIA in having direct flights to US cities, including New York, Chicago and Houston.
Owing to security concerns, the US does not allow any direct flight that originates at a Pakistani airport into its airspace. 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.
A PIA statement said that Air Marshal Malik apprised Ms Wagner and her team of the issue that flying to the US via a transit route was economically unviable. He also briefed the US delegation about PIA’s plan to expand its fleet by acquisition of new aircraft.
The PIA chief said the security situation in Pakistan had improved tremendously and relevant aviation and security agencies of Canada and European countries had shown their confidence over the recent developments. He informed the US envoy of getting certification and approvals from the IATA Operational Safety Audit and other agencies.
Ms Wagner assured the PIA of help by contacting relevant US departments in resolving its issues including having a direct access to US mainland. “We are optimistic that relations between both the countries will grow,” she said, adding: “The USA is very keen to improve and strengthen ties between both countries especially the business and trade relations.
It is expected that the US will establish a counter for Border Protection, Custom and Immigration authorities on one of Pakistan’s airports like it has one at Abu Dhabi airport.
The Pakistani passengers had to travel to America via Abu Dhabi as the US had banned Pakistani flights in its airspace.