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Lifting PIA: the Nur Khan way

January 31, 2012

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THIS is apropos of Muhammad Anwarul Haque’s letter ‘Nur Khan: a considerate man’ (Jan 14). The writer’s moving tribute to Air Marshall Nur Khan in his role as PIA’s MD is testament to his dynamic personality and meritorious contributions to the national flag carrier.

In his death, the nation has lost a distinguished person. His contribution to establishing PIA as one of the world’s leading airlines in the 1960s needs to be fully recognised.

PIA’s many achievements under Nur Khan’s leadership included the following:

In 1961 PIA initiated its first trans-Atlantic operation, with the initiation of flights from Karachi to New York. In 1962, a PIA flight recorded the fastest travel time between London and Karachi, a record that remains unbroken to this day. In 1964, PIA became the first non-communist national flag carrier to operate flights to China.

Similarly, under Nur Khan PIA became the first Asian airline to introduce jet aircraft into operation. Under him PIA enjoyed commercial success as a profit-making corporation.

In 1973, Nur Khan was again asked by the government to head PIA. During his second term as well, he succeeded in operating the airline on a commercially viable basis, and it was during this term that PIA acquired the DC-10s and Boeing 747s.

Nur Khan was thus able to raise a young airline to a stature where it merited comparisons with the world’s top airlines.

In these days and times, when PIA is battling with many potential difficulties, it is heartening to look back at that successful chapter in its history, and to take inspiration from it to make endeavours to uplift the organisation and bring it at par with the glory days of the past.

With the right impetus and positive, forward-looking measures, this can still be achieved — the late Air Marshall has left us the legacy of his vision to emulate and cherish, and to succeed once again.

YASMIN HAROON In charge of Public Relations, PIA Lahore