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Orient Airways Ltd. was an airline established in 1946 with a base in Calcutta, India. It was the first and only Muslim owned airline in pre-partition India.[1]


The airline was registered in Calcutta, British India on 23 October 1946. Mirza Ahmad Ispahani, the Chairman, and Air Vice Marshal O.K. Carter, the General Manager, obtained an operating licence on May 1947. Four Douglas DC-3s were obtained from Tempo, Texas in February 1947 and operations first started on 4 June 1947. The designated route was Kolkata-Sittwe (then known as Akyab)-Yangon (Myanmar), which also happened to be the first post-war international operation to be flown by an airline registered in India. Within two months of Orient Airways' operational beginnings, Pakistan was born.

Orient Airways, along with the help of some BOAC aircraft which had been chartered by the Government of Pakistan, started relief operations and transportation of the population between Delhi and Karachi, the two capitals. Later, Orient Airways transferred its base to Pakistan and established the vital link between Karachi and Dhaka (Dacca), the two capitals of the two wings of Pakistan. With a skeleton fleet of just two DC-3s, three crew and twelve mechanics, Orient Airways re-launched its scheduled operations in a fairy-tale fashion. The initial routes were Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar, Karachi-Quetta-Lahore and Karachi-Delhi- Kolkata-Dhaka. By the end of 1949, Orient Airways had acquired 10 DC-3s and 3 Convair 240s which it operated on these routes. In 1950, it had become increasingly apparent that additional capacity would have to be inducted in order to cater to the growing needs of the sub-continent.

On 11 March 1955, the government of Pakistan merged Orient Airways with other airlines to form Pakistan International Airlines.

See also




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