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US to allow direct flight access to Pakistan, Soon: Sufi

Analysts said the move, if materialized would deepen bilateral relations

New York: The United States (U.S) led by Joe Biden administration has expressed its readiness to resume the process to allow Pakistan International Airlines’ direct access to the US. 

It was informed by Salman Sufi, The Head of Prime Minister of Pakistan’s Strategic Reforms on Twitter.

Analysts told Vosa TV that the development, if materialized, will further deepen bilateral relations, and connectivity, besides easing the travel woes of thousands of passengers from both friendly countries.

“As part of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s reforms, Direct flight access to the U.S market is pivotal for trade, Pakistan’s businesses & passengers. In a meeting held with senior US officials, U.S was pleased to share the readiness to resume the process to allow Pakistan direct flight access.” Salman Sufi told Twitter on July 28.

It is pertinent to note that Pakistan has been the frontline ally of U.S in the years’ long Afghan War and has rendered hundreds of Thousands of lives in the US-led war against the global terrorism.  Both countries have been enjoying closed relations for the last seven decades. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there were 554,202 U.S. residents of Pakistani descent living in the United States in 2019. This shows that US is one of the most favorite destinations for Pakistanis.

According to Pakistan Embassy US, the Head of Prime Minister’s Strategic Reforms unit briefed US media on PM vision for strategic reforms & a roadmap to strengthen bilateral relations  with focus on tech, finance, economic, health, startups, climate change, energy &people to people contacts.

Salman Sufi met with US high-ranking officials, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Bureau of South and Central Asia Elizabeth Horst at the US Department of State, according to Geo News.

“The US side conveyed its readiness to have technical discussions with Civil Aviation Authority and other relevant departments and undertaking necessary visits for resumption of direct flights,” said a statement

According to The News International, Sufi while alking to the media on Thursday after his meetings with the White House National Security Council director Courtney Dunn and Direct International Economic Affairs, NSC, said his talks covered wide-ranging issues, including resumption of PIA direct flights to the US.

For the purpose, he also had a meeting with a delegation of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA), where he stressed to expedite the process for resumption of PIA direct flights from Pakistan to the United States.

He noted that New Islamabad Airport was well equipped as per international standards to meet the TSA’s requirements.

Sufi told the media that the US side conveyed its readiness to have technical discussions with the Civil Aviation Authority and other relevant departments and undertake necessary visits for resumption of direct flights.

Express Tribune reported while quoting the FAA official website, “A Category 1 rating means the country’s civil aviation authority complies with ICAO standards. This rating allows air carriers from that country to establish service to the United States and to carry the code of US carriers through codesharing arrangements.”

However, “Air carriers from countries with Category 2 ratings are not allowed to initiate new service to the United States, are restricted to current levels of existing service to the United States, and are not permitted to carry the code of US carriers on any flights. Currently, no airlines operate regularly scheduled flights between Pakistan and the United States.”

 

In 2020, Reuters had reported that Pakistan’s air safety rating was downgraded after the FAA raised concerns about pilot certifications.

Earlier in 2017, similar concerns about the country’s aviation safety were raised thereby resulting in an end to direct flights from Pakistan.

While in March 2019 the US had assured Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) of facilitating in carrying direct flights to the three major cities, including New York, Chicago and Houston.

However, in July of the same year, the US had stated that there had been no imminent plans for direct flights between Pakistan and the United States.

 

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