Pakistan Airlines Is Operating A Military C-130 On Passenger Flights

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Last week a Pakistan International Airlines ATR tragically crashed while operating a domestic flight. The investigation regarding the incident is ongoing, and for the time being PIA has grounded their entire ATR fleet.

This has meant that PIA has had to cancel flights to some of their destinations. That’s because the next smallest plane in PIA’s fleet is the A320, and it’s not capable at landing at many of these smaller airports.

Well, it looks like PIA has a creative solution to this… sort of.

For the time being, PIA is operating a Pakistan Air Force C-130 on select flights. While the C-130 is a fairly large plane, it is able to take off on very short runways, so can serve most of the airports that the ATR can.

Given that this is a military plane, the C-130 interior typically looks like a cargo hold. The plane sometimes has netted benches along the side of the plane, though I’ve never seen one in a “true” passenger configuration.

Ultimately I commend PIA for their creativity here. They don’t have many options when the entire ATR fleet is grounded, so this is a creative way for them to still get passengers to their destination. I assume passengers can refund their tickets if they’re not comfortable with flying a military plane.

But ultimately PIA deserve credit for their creativity, and as an aviation geek, this seems like one of the more unique passenger flights out there.

What do you think of what PIA is doing, and does flying a C-130 sound like avgeek heaven or torture to you?

(Tip of the hat to @AirlineFlyer)

  1. That would be so awesome. Too bad I have no plans to be in Pakistan anytime soon. I’d love to hear a trip report from one of these flights.

  2. I have flown on that airplane when I served in the Japanese army. Its super loud and I would definitely not recommend it.

  3. The C-130 is something I have experienced as a passenger many times, as both an active-duty service member and a civilian contractor. It’s a lot different than anything else, that’s for sure. It’s loud, forget about windows, it’e either boiling hot or pretty cold (depending on how the crew likes the cargo area) and the “lav” is basically a much less glamourous port-a-potty. But it’s an amazing plane – it can get in and out of small airstrips with a huge payload, it has gobs and gobs of power, and it’s among the safest aircraft ever built. Amazing machine. Lucky, get to Pakistan so you can try one! (kidding)
    It’s much easier to bum a ride from the USAF or USCG, both of whom operate several C-130 variants.

  4. Haha that would be a fun flight. I’m guessing the PAF doesn’t have the pallet with passenger seats installed that slides into the cargo area. Too bad there’s no opportunity for that flight closer to home. The question is Lucky, can you book this flight with miles?

  5. This has happened in Australia before: during the 1980s there was an extended pilot strike, lasting some weeks. The Australian Government entered into wet lease arrangements with a number of US and Canadian carriers to keep some routes open but also used airforce transports, similar to the C130 , on Melbourne-Sydney.

  6. During the extended Australian airline strike I caught an Ansett Australia/Royal Australian Airforce Hercules from Melbourne to Launceston. Probably the most entertaining and unique flight I’ve ever caught. Military flight attendants, ear plugs for all passengers, very low cruising altitude, boxed lunches and an open cockpit. Would love to do it again!

  7. Loud, usually uncomfortable, always slow and really different. And bring spare earplugs, since often the movies are very old.

  8. That’d be awesome! I spent many days as a kid watching a C-130 shuttle paratroopers up from a nearby Army National Guard base with a short runway. It climbed like nothing else. The runway was on a hill and I had unobstructed views, since then I’ve secretly wanted a ride 🙂

  9. I served in the Singapore Armed Forces and had to take a C-130 flight. It’s loud and bumpy as hell and if you are paying for a ticket, not a plane I would want to ride.

  10. There is little pleasant about passenger flight in a C-130. Its loud, cold, bumpy, … – I highly recommend you take a flight to experience the pleasure.

  11. I flew an all day flight Ina C-117 . It was so slow you could count fenceposts over West Texas . A C-130 would have been a great improvement .

  12. Flew in them a number of times in the service, once from Chicago in winter to NAS Key West … just before landing the loadmaster lowered the back door half way at about a thousand feet for a warm rush of humid tropical air after leaving Chicago in single digits.

    Also memorable to visit the cockpit – climb up a ladder 8-10 feet to the upper deck.

    Ungodly loud at takeoff … they’d pass around a tin can of wax ear plugs.

  13. Just to break everyone’s cloud- Gilgit is near PoK, which in simplest terms is terror heaven. Just in case your country allows you to visit Pakistan, I would warn you against getting outside the Airport in Karachi/Islamabad and in gilgit don’t even get out of your aircraft..

  14. What FLYINRYAN and DALE said. Have flown many times on a USAF C-130 as crew and passenger. AVGEEK heaven. Loud. Either hot or cold (never in between). Have actually had a “pax pallet” a couple of times with uncomfortablenairline typenseats and an enclosed porta-potty, but usually sling seats (with pallets in the middle and NO legroom). But in a relatively empty plane a sleeping not seat is VERY comfortable if you can lay down on a length of it. The low “thrumming” can actually lull me to sleep (and I have a hard time sleeping in a lay flat biz seat!), and if you’re on a military flight and the ramp is open there is NOTHING like it!

    Yup. Air Force geek here. Would fly it in a second (ok…maybe not a Pakistani c-130 since I’m familiar with their military maintenance) but a Non middle-east c-130? In a heartbeat.

  15. @ Abhinav – a bit excessive, I’d say. I’ve been living in Pakistan for six years and have experienced nothing but hospitality. Gilgit in particular is spectacularly beautiful. Just need a way to convince the wife that this would be a good Christmas break for the family…

  16. I have a lot of time in the C-130 while on A give Duty. They do have passenger pallets that have airline like seats, but still not the most comfortable. The lavatory is not a pretty site either.

  17. I have spent a lot of time on an L-100 (the civilian version) in Afghanistan. I imagine that it is an amazing plane as a pilot, but horrible as a passenger!

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