Pakistan Airlines To Launch Flights Between Germany And The US?!?

Filed Under: Other Airlines

A few weeks ago I flew Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from Manchester to New York, which sure was an… interesting flight. While lots of airlines operate fifth freedom routes, PIA’s flight between Manchester and New York is an especially interesting one.

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PIA flies from Lahore to Manchester to New York, though on the way back they operate a nonstop flight from New York to Lahore. I find it puzzling that they operate the fifth freedom flight in only one direction, since it limits the potential number of passengers they could carry exclusively between Lahore and Manchester, or exclusively between Manchester and New York. When we took the flight from Manchester to New York, it sure seemed like we were just about the only non-transit passengers on the plane.

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The reason for the fifth freedom route to begin with is that nonstop flights from Pakistan to the US aren’t allowed, which means the plane first has to stop somewhere else.


Anyway, reader Moritz passed along that PIA is apparently planning on discontinuing their flight via Manchester.

According to, PIA plans on operating their Lahore to New York flight via Leipzig, Germany, as of 2017. That sure is a fascinating route, as Leipzig Airport is used almost exclusively for regional routes. I’m curious if they actually plan on operating the flight in both directions via Europe, or will still have a one stop service westbound and a nonstop flight eastbound.


PIA has fantastic business class fares, so it sure would be nice if they improved their product on the route. PIA is introducing a better product between Pakistan and London with their “Pakistan Premier” service. This is thanks to them leasing planes from SriLankan, which is in a horrible financial situation. So they’re taking over SriLankan’s gorgeous new A330s with reverse herringbone seats.


If PIA operated those to the US, they’d actually have a better than average product all around, rather than the current cabins they have, which are falling apart.

So far I haven’t seen any official confirmation of this route change, though I’ll be watching for it. How interesting…

What do you make of PIA operating their Pakistan to US flight via Leipzig?

  1. @Lucky the reason PIA makes the stop is because the US doesn’t allow nonstop flights into the US ex-Pakistan, hence the fifth freedom

  2. What on earth.. Leipzig doesn’t even have Pakistanis, let alone South Asians for feeding traffic. And I doubt Germans would fly this airline to the US when there are far better airlines in Europe. Simply odd.

  3. Leipzig?!

    I love Leipzig’s vibrant contemporary art scene (it outshines Berlin’s, IMO) but l cannot fathom how PIA can justify a nonstop flight from Pakistan to LEJ!

    I am hoping that someone can shed some light on this seemingly bizarre routing.

  4. Leipzig is actually a big air freight hub for DHL (similar to Memphis for Fedex or Louisville for UPS for those who are familiar) – perhaps PIA may be hoping to pick up some transfer freight? Unlike for passengers, transferring freight between airlines is quite common

  5. Lahore used to be quite lovely: very interesting history, architecture, the Shalimar Gardens, vibrant and exciting. 20 years ago, perhaps a bit longer, there was a Sheraton as well ( Sheraton Club era, pre SPG). I can’t imagine that too many foreigners go there these days for tourism given the travel warnings issued by almost every country. So this route would be for Pakistanis for the full trip and others looking for a cheap fare ex Germany.
    If it’s cheap enough it might work ( as someone who frequently routes through Cairo and Colombo for that reason).

  6. My guess is they had to stop somewhere in Western Europe and they were offered some sort of “deal” by the airport. Leipzig can advertise itself as having non stop flights to New York and pia saves money on fees and taxes.

  7. Could this just be due to landing fees? I am guessing they are cheaper in Leipzig than Manchester, and the airport can handle a 777.

  8. Agree with W above. In addition to comments already on the interest of carrying freight, I am assuming Leipzig also offers more favorable costs for ground services and refueling compared to the major hubs.

  9. I wonder if they will have issues with transporting Israeli citizens on the USA-Europe legs which has been contentious in similar context.

  10. There’s a sizable Pakistani population in the middle of the UK – Birmingham/Manchester .. probably why they chose there.

  11. The leased A330s are a short term solution and essentially just a marketing gimmick. I do not see them in the fleet after 2 years. Especially considering they have just finalized the procurement of 8 B787-9.

    Leipzig is probably being used because they have lower operating charges. Perhaps they are also trying to expand MAN service; which they can not really do if majority of the seats are already taken by NY bound passengers.

  12. I was going to say… There is no way in hell that the US allows a flight from Pakistan to fly directly to the US without (I’m not 100% sure, but I’m guessing (and hoping)), being re-screened again in Manchester before coming to the US. Outbound, I don’t think they care obviously.

    This route, sounds like they are looking at ways to burn piles of cash. I wish they would hand me some, I could make something out of it and cut the, 25%!

  13. June 5, 2013, Pakistan Airlines will offer twice weekly service between Chicago and Barcelona —
    Is this over with?

  14. The original article from mentions:
    “According to a media report by (German Radio in Urdu), a leading manager is quoted as saying that the stop in LEJ would save about 30-45 min time in transit compared to MAN and the cost would be lower compared to FRA or MAN.”

  15. According to the Wikipedia article on LEJ, PIA already uses it for flights to Karachi? Is that accurate?
    If they offer super competitive fares for the 5th freedom leg (<350€), then people from Leipzig and Dresden will use it, but besides the times of the Leipzig trade fair, I see little sense in this.

  16. Probably some sort of negotiations have taken place because now PIA has got Germans in the management ( 2 Germans as far as i know ).

  17. How is PIA able to arrange money for aircraft? The airline is in loss, and their govt is sitting on heavy debts (over $50 billion) for a $980 billion economy, public debt is 63% of GDP.

  18. What is the risk that the TSA is trying to manage by requiring a flight ex-Pakistan to do a technical stop in a third country?

    Does anyone know?

  19. PIA could also be thinking that, it knows if we go to some large airport, where people have other options as well then the locals will not even think about PIA, while If we go to a small airport, then there are some chances that locals will try us..
    @TheRealBabushka nothing as such. PIA loves us aircraft more than US and takes enough safety measures. They only want to satisfy their being American rant.

  20. If they fly in both directions from NYC to Leipzig, my wife and I would fly them twice a year and I suspect many other Leipschers would too once they discover this. Really hope this happens!

  21. it would be very Good for the name of the progressing Leipzig Airport if PIA choose this route to the US via Leipzig.

  22. I hope that they do stop in Leipzig! I live in Meissen, near Leipzig, and I go back to New York to visit 2 to 4 times per year. It would be so much better to go direct to and from Leipzig that to have to go through Frankfurt and change planes.

  23. Media in the Leipzig region have been describing this (usually in quite excited terms) as an opportunity for round-trip LEJ–JFK flights, which are clearly perceived as a boost for the large airport, which has been a large cargo hub with only limited year-round passenger service.

    I haven’t read one word about the (also exciting?) possibility of LEJ–ISB flights. I’m not sure if it’s because Leipzig journalists can’t fathom anyone wanting to travel that route or if perhaps PIA isn’t planning on selling tickets for it. (N.b. all German articles I have read on this mention LEJ as a stop-over on the JFK–ISB route, not JFK–LHE.)

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