Lahore: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK712 that reached Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport on October 29 was the last of the PIA flights from US.

With its arrival from John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, comes the termination of PIA flights from US after 56 years.

The flight operation was suspended primarily because of ‘low traffic’ and losses of up to Rs1.25 billion (Dh43 million) annually due to its flights to the US.

“The national flag carrier is already facing [an] acute financial crunch, therefore, it cannot operate on routes which are running in losses,” a PIA official was quoted as saying by daily Dawn.

PIA was reportedly unable to meet its direct operating cost, and poor marketing policies made the situation worse, according to The Nation newspaper. The routes were given to foreign airlines with good meals, an active in-flight entertainment system, low fares and efficient crew members, the media report said.

PIA had been operating flights to the US since 1961 with a total of five weekly flights to New York and three other US cities, Washington, Chicago and Houston. Lately, the twice-a-week flights for Chicago and Houston were cancelled because the routes were not financially viable anymore.

An estimated 500,000 Pakistanis live in the US who proudly travelled on PIA. The flight suspension has deeply saddened the Pakistani-American community.

A frequent PIA traveller, Rafiq Asghar, said: “I always chose PIA to travel to Pakistan because I get the feeling of home as soon as I board the flight. It is a sad day for all the Pakistani community in the United States that our national airline will no longer be operating from US now.”

PIA, after discontinuing direct flights to the US, will enter into a code-sharing agreement with some foreign airlines so that US-bound passengers will be flown to London from where they will then be transferred to the American airline.

Nafisa Shah, a politician from the Pakistan Peoples Party, termed it a “sad day for Pakistan as PIA’s most prized route to New York is suspended. What PMLN has done to national airline is unforgivable”.

Mohammad Sarwar, the former Governor of Punjab, said in a tweet that he was “concerned and sad to see corruption/political influences ruining our state institutions especially PIA.” He believes that “the only solution is accountability/meritocracy.”

PIA incurred a net loss of Rs45 billion in 2016, which is 36 per cent higher than previous year’s loss of Rs33 billion.

Due to continuing losses, the Pakistan government is all set to offer a new bailout package worth Rs13 billion to the beleaguered national flag carrier, according to daily Dawn.