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History of PIA - Pakistan International Airlines

PIA hired famous national and international dress designers for designing of uniforms worn by its flight attendants. These designers include famous names like Feroze Cowasji, Pierre Cardin and Sir Hardy Amies


Uniform 1956-1960

1956-1960  (Copyright © PIA)

This photos shows PIA's legendary Air Hostess Momi Gul Durrani in 1950s uniform. This uniform was jointly designed by well-known Pakistani dress designer Laila Shahzada and Chausie Fountainer, an American woman of French descent who as cabin crew trainer was with PIA on a 5 year deputation from Pan American World Airways. In this design a white shalwar and dupatta were set off by a green shirt with white cuffs and collar. Shoes and bags were black. The most interesting item of this uniform was a jaunty green cap for the hostesses. This uniform design was used from 1956 to 1960

Uniform 1956-1960

1956-1960  (Capt. Khusro Nawaz Family Collection)

This photo taken at PIA booking office on Club Road, Karachi, in June 1956, shows Air Hostess Naseem Feroze modelling the first uniform based on Pakistan's national dress for PIA Air Hostesses. Incidentally, the shoes and handbag in this photo belong to Naseem and not PIA issued.

In following writeup Naseem remembers how she joined PIA and her early days with the airline.

"In 1956, an add appeared in 'The Pakistan Times', Lahore for air hostesses for PIA. After reading it I set it aside. The add appeared for three successive days. Although appearing quite interesting I set it aside thinking about my family traditions. Discussing the add with my older brother. He encouraged me to at least apply and appear for the interview.

The interview was scheduled to be held at the PIA office in Shah Din building, The Mall, Lahore. The interviewing board consisted of Chausie Fountainer, The stewardess training instructor from Pan American World Airways, Mr. Ashraf, Station Manager, Lahore and Mr. Nasir Ghani, Passenger Service Manager. I was asked, if I would consider cutting my hair and whether I would be comfortable wearing a skirt, the normal uniform for air hostesses around the world. I showed my deep reservation to both of these demands. Although she did mention that PIA was in the process of designing a new uniform. A couple of days later a letter of acceptance arrived from PIA, despite my refusal to give in the demand of shortening the hair and wearing a western outfit.

I was chosen to be the model for the new PIA uniform. This comprised of a green tunic, green hat, white shalwar and dupatta, black shoes and purse. PIA was the first airline in the world to incorporate local attire as its uniform. Later other airlines like Air India, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), Malaysia-Singapore Airlines (MSA) followed suit.

All the international airports, where PIA operated, the ’PIA Girl’, uniform stood out. They were the real brand ambassador for the country and PIA.

Once President Ayub Khan traveled from London to Karachi and had a stopover at Beirut. He was given an honour guard. The visitor’s gallery was full of people clapping while he de-planed from the front. Afterwards, I also de-planed and walked towards the terminal (click here to see photo). To my astonishment the clapping for me was much more vigorous than for the President. I just waved at them and the applause was much more resounding. Such was the power of the green uniform.

Back on the aircraft, heading towards Pakistan, the President really appreciated the work of the cabin crew (Jamila and I) as shining example of a new country, heading for greatness."

Uniform 1956-1960

1956-1960  (Selma Sheikh Collection)

This photo shows PIA Air Hostess Selma Sheikh in 1950s uniform

Uniform 1956-1960

1956-1960  (Abbas Ali Collection)

A PIA Air Hostess in 1950s uniform

Uniform 1956-1960

1956-1960  (Capt. Khusro Nawaz Family Collection)

PIA cabin crew at Idlewild Airport in New York City, USA, in January 1960 during training for Boeing 707. The crew seen in this photo from left to right are Purser Nasir, Pan American World Airway Trainer Stewardess Norma Jean Gaskill, Purser Gillani, Air Hostess Naseem Feroze, Purser Bilgrami and coordinator for PIA Passenger Service Department Safia Sibghat Ullah. Idlewild Airport was renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1963, one month after the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy

Uniform 1956-1960

1956-1960  (Abbas Ali Collection)

A PIA Air Hostess with airline's first Vickers Viscount 815 (AP-AJC) photographed at Karachi Airport in 1959

Uniform 1956-1960

1956-1960  (Abbas Ali Collection)

This photo shows a PIA Air Hostess at Karachi Airport, Pakistan, in January 1958. She is wearing earrings with PIA logo

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