A file photo showing a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane arriving at Islamabad airport. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Islamabad: Citing huge losses, flagship carrier Pakistan International Airlines will be discontinuing flights to the US from October 31, airline officials said on Friday.

According to the officials, PIA had been incurring losses of up to Rs1.25 billion annually due to its US operations - a concern which prompted the management to discontinue the flights, Geo News reported.

The airline is no longer booking US flights through its reservation system after October 31. PIA had been operating flights to the US since 1961 without any disruption. A total of five weekly flights to New York and three other US cities were being operated.

The airline had decided several times in the past to discontinue US flights due to the financial losses. However, it faced "political pressure" each time, which hindered its plans, sources privy to the matter told Geo News.

Some politicians holding dual citizenship, top government officials and pilots exerted "pressure" on the airline not to stop its US flight operations. These flights were "beneficial" to the politicians and officials, the sources said.

PIA, after stopping direct flights to the US, will enter into a code-sharing agreement with an American airline. US-bound passengers will be flown to London, where they will then be transferred to the American airline which will take them to the US.

Such a code-sharing agreement will help PIA to avoid financial losses, the report said.