What Happened To Pakistan International’s Boeing 787 Order?

In late 2016 the news on fire about a new Boeing 787 customer: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). The carrier planned to take delivery of eight brand-new Dreamliners by swapping its existing 777 order. But the aircraft never made it to the flag carrier. So what happened to PIA’s 787 order?

the Pakistan International Airlines PIA Boeing 777-240ER taxiing
Pakistan International never took delivery of any 787s, instead sticking to its trusted 777 fleet. Photo: Getty Images

Exciting opportunity

Pakistan International Airlines has long been a trusted Boeing customer, previously flying the 747 and then the 777. Considering this, in 2016, the manufacturer offered the Pakistani government a chance to acquire the latest generation of planes: the 787.

Boeing Commercial President Ray Conner wrote to then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urging him to convert PIA’s pending order for five 777s to eight 787s instead, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. In the letter, Conner wrote that,

“Over the past three months, we have worked extensively with PIA to document the business case for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and we are convinced that the 787 can dramatically transform PIA’s operations and help it restore profitability.”

Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777
Boeing urged the Pakistani government to swap its 777 order for 787s instead. Photo: Getty Images

Boeing’s campaign eventually worked, with PIA’s Chairman confirming to a reporter in October that the carrier had decided to make the swap and place an order for eight brand new Dreamliners.

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The move made sense of PIA since it was set to retire its A310s and was looking for a more modern replacement. Deliveries of the 787 were also scheduled for mid-June 2017, a quick turnaround time from Boeing. However, things did not go to plan.

Radio silence

Soon after Pakistan International’s confirmation that it would take on the new type, there was radio silence. While delivery dates and timelines had been floated, both Boeing and PIA were hesitant to put out firm press releases with their plans. Eventually, no further moves were made and the news fizzled out.

However, there was still the question of whether PIA would continue with the 2012 order for five new 777s. The answer to that question also remains up in the air. As of 2021, the order remains on Boeing’s books, but it remains unclear if PIA will ever collect.

EASA bans Pakistani licensed pilots
PIA’s order for five 777-300ERs remains on Boeing’s books, but it’s unclear if it will be fulfilled. Photo: Getty Images

It’s safe to say that Pakistan International’s order for the 787 stands canceled (if it were ever formalized to begin with). But what aircraft is PIA currently operating on its long routes?

Current fleet

Pakistan International currently operates 12 widebody aircraft, consisting of six 777-200ERs, two 777-200LRs, and four 777-300ERs, according to Planespotters.net. The latest widebody to join the fleet was a former Air Austral 777-300ER in July 2017. Overall, PIA seems to be pleased with continuing with its streamlined widebody fleet for now.

Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777
PIA is sticking to its 777s for the time being, with no plans to expand further. Photo: Getty Images

After a tough 2020, PIA is looking to acquire more narrowbodies like the A320, which offers suitable capacity. However, don’t expect to see a 787 sporting Pakistan International’s livery anytime soon.

What do you think about PIA’s choice not to buy the 787? Let us know in the comments!