A feat which seems possible when AM Arshad led PIA team took the initiative of approaching TSA USA, a Government agency that oversees airport and air carrier security. AM Arshad Malik personally visited TSA HQ Washington DC and pursued them to assess Islamabad and PIA for direct flights. Today, TSA team is in Islamabad and are thoroughly assessing the aviation security protocols as per TSA standards of PIA, ASF and CAA to allow direct flight operations to the United States.
Today on 11 March, the second day of assessment, the five-member team checked PK701 Islamabad to Manchester and monitored all aspects of flight dispatch. They observed the check in system & procedures of PIA and workings of three layers of security searches including PIA & ASF. They also checked the working of PIA special Task Force. They witnessed the search methodology deployed by PIA Security and Airport Security Force at different points, PIA aircraft access control, baggage, cargo and catering security & loading onto the aircraft. Yesterday they assessed the Cargo, Catering and Handling Services facilities and their procedures.
PIA management under the supervision of Air Marshal Arshad Malik had been making considerable efforts to seek permissions for the direct operations between Pakistan and the USA. The initiatives started when AM Arshad invited Consul General USA in the end of the first quarter of last year to PIA Head office, where a formal request was put forth by the Air Marshal personally for TSA check and clearance for initiation of PIA direct flights to USA for the first time in history. Subsequent meetings on the preparedness and assurances were held in Washington DC between the US Under Secretary of Transport and AM Arshad Malik. Based on the outcomes of the meeting, a strict security protocol was set in place through a dedicated team led by one of the PAF team members in PIA, whereby Aviation Security Operational Procedures were redefined as per TSA Standards, trainings were conducted, and manuals were developed. The Air Marshal made Air Cdre Shahid Qadir, a seasoned security specialist, the Team leader who took members from Marketing, Flight Operations, Services, Handling and IT. This resulted in synergised efforts in achieving the desired TSA standards in the minimum possible time. AM Arshad on the other hand took all stake holders, that is Ministry of Aviation, MOFA, Interior and different Law enforcement agencies, on board.
CEO PIA AM Arshad Malik’s greatest contribution is the synergic and rapid achievements through mutual consent inside and outside PIA.
Inside sources reveal that the visit is progressing well and there is overall satisfaction amongst the team from initial assessment. They are really appreciative of the new airport the harmonious security management system of PIA , ASF and CAA . Pakistani authorities’ cooperation in opening all avenues and extending all support has really impressed them.
However, final assessment will be granted after detailed deliberations by TSA in approximately two months time as per their procedures. PIA has big plans to launch the flight after Ramazan to cater for the holidays season.