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History of PIA - Pakistan International Airlines

Photo Gallery of PIA's Finest Men and Women

Capt. Ayesha Rabia

Capt. Ayesha Rabia  (Copyright © Capt. Ayesha Rabia)

Captain Ayesha Rabia of PIA made civil aviation history in Pakistan when in 2005 she became the first woman pilot to achieve the coveted Captain's rating on the Fokker F27 in PIA's fleet.

Ayesha was greatly inspired and encouraged to become a pilot by her father, a doctor, professor and surgeon whose passionate hobby was flying. Ever since she was old enough to be his passenger he would take her up in the Multan and Lahore Flying Club planes he regularly flew locally and on long cross-country flights. She joined the Lahore Flying Club in 1974, soloing there on a Cessna 172 when she was 17. By 1979 she had gained her Private and Commercial Pilot's licences with Instrument Rating and qualified also as Flying Instructor.

In 1980, she was selected by PIA but the induction and training of her batch was put in abeyance.

Thus began Ayesha's long, remarkably patient journey to an airliner cockpit. During the extended wait for the call from PIA to start pilot training, she entered another hitherto-male-only field by qualifying as one of the first female air traffic controllers in Pakistan with the newly formed Civil Aviation Authority, working at this post for a period at Lahore airport. During this while she also got married; her husband is a civil engineer and they have a son and a daughter.

Ayesha eventually received PIA's call in 1985 and started what proved for her to be a short-lived training course unfortunately: before its conclusion it was firmly decided by the government that there was no place in Pakistani society for women pilots! Although she was ranked 5th in her batch with a high 88 percent marks PIA had to withdraw Ayesha, and fellow trainee Maliha (see here), from the course. Undeterred, Ayesha moved to a ground job as Sales Promotion Officer in PIA's marketing department.

Finally, in 1989 - during her 9 year wait, faith and determination had made her keep all her licences and ratings current - PIA again invited her to conclude her pilot training. Fortunately, this time it concluded happily and in 1990 Ayesha flew her maiden flight on Karachi–Pasni–Turbat–Karachi sector as a qualified F27 First Officer. She graduated subsequently to First Officer tenures totaling 6000 hours of flying experience, starting in 1992 on the Boeing 737-300, then on the Airbus A300 in 1994, and in 1999 on the Boeing 747 "Jumbo" which she was the first woman in Pakistan to fly. (Click here to see Ayesha as First Officer on various PIA aircraft types)

After 6 years as First Officer on the 747 Ayesha became Pakistan's first woman airline captain, commanding her first flight on the F27 Karachi-Turbat-Gwadar-Karachi route on October 21, 2005.

On January 25, 2006, Ayesha made civil aviation history yet again when she captained Pakistan's first scheduled passenger flight PK-623 operated by an all-woman crew (see photos below). On board under her command, were First Officer Sadia Aziz and airhostesses Tauseef Ashraf and Shazia Kausar. The F27 flight carrying 40 passengers from Islamabad to Lahore received wide coverage in the national and international media including PTV, GEO, CNN and BBC.

Ayesha’s current position, captain on the Boeing 737-300, makes her the first woman captain of a jetliner in Pakistan. After completing her under supervision hours, Ayesha operated her first flight as Captain of Boeing 737-300 on February 10, 2008. The history making jet flight was PK-340 & PK-341 on Karachi-Faisalabad-Karachi route. (Click here to see Ayesha as Boeing 737-300 Captain)

Ayesha was not the only member of her family inspired by her late father Professor Dr Masood Ahmed. Her brother Zafar Ahmed also became a pilot and is a Boeing 737 Captain with PIA. Ayesha and Zafar are the only brother-sister airline pilots in Pakistan

Capt. Ayesha Rabia

Capt. Ayesha Rabia  (Copyright © Ayesha Rabia)

On January 25, 2006, Capt. Ayesha created another unique record in Pakistan’s civil aviation history when she and her all-women crew flew a PIA Fokker F27 flight PK-623 from Islamabad to Lahore with 40 passengers onboard. It was the first flight operated by all-women crew in Pakistan's civil aviation history. The flight received wide coverage in print and electronic media around the world. This photo shows Capt. Ayesha and First Officer Sadia Aziz on the flight deck of Fokker F27 (registration AP-BCZ) at Islamabad Airport before operating Pakistan’s historic first scheduled passenger flight with all-women crew on January 25, 2006

Capt. Ayesha Rabia

Capt. Ayesha Rabia  (Copyright © Capt. Ayesha Rabia)

Capt. Ayesha at controls of PIA Fokker F27 (registration AP-BCZ) on Islamabad Airport runway ready to start take-off roll of first flight in Pakistan’s civil aviation history operated by all-women crew. The historic flight PK-623 flew from Islamabad to Lahore on January 25, 2006 with 40 forty passengers on board. Click here to see Ayesha on her first flight as full fledged F27 First Officer in 1990

Capt. Ayesha Rabia

Capt. Ayesha Rabia  (Copyright © Capt. Ayesha Rabia)

All four crew members of Pakistan's first all-women crew scheduled passenger flight photographed with the aircraft, a PIA Fokker F27 (registration AP-BCZ), at Lahore Airport after completing their historic flight PK-623 from Islamabad with forty passengers on January 25, 2006. The all-women crew led by Capt. Ayesha Rabia included First Officer Sadia Aziz and Air Hostesses Shazia Kausar and Tauseef Ashraf

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