British Airways is the first European airline to return to Pakistan after 11 years
Islamabad: June 3rd marked a new era in Pakistan’s aviation sector as British Airways landed in Islamabad after a decade-long hiatus following improved security situation.
The first flight of British Airways (BA- 261), carrying some 240 passengers, arrived at the Islamabad International Airport at 9:18am on June 3 morning. The same aircraft will depart for Heathrow at 11:10am with passengers on board from Islamabad.
Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Hussain Bukhari and senior officials of Aviation Division and British High Commission welcomed the passengers at Islamabad International Airport.
British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Thomas Drew, said the resumption of flights is a testament to Pakistan’s improving security situation. “Britain’s flag carrier is back, the two countries are already so close in so many ways and this will only bring us closer” the British envoy said in a Twitter video message.
“The return of British Airways is major vote of confidence from a Western airline on improved security situation and services in Pakistan,” said APM on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Hussain Bukhari. He added the airline would enhance international connectivity in the country and region.
British Airways said it will offer tailored services including a halal meal option in every class of cabin. “The anticipation from customers and colleagues has been palpable and we hope customers in both the UK and Pakistan will enjoy the classically British service we offer, with thoughtful bespoke touches,” said Andrew Brem, chief commercial officer at British Airways.
Aftab Khan, one of the crew member operating the inaugural flight, who speaks English and Urdu, told media: “To be chosen to operate this flight, with my close family links to Pakistan, is a real honour.”
Britain is home to more than a million people of Pakistani origin, making it the largest Pakistani diaspora community in Europe.
British Airways is the first European airline to return to Pakistan 11 years as it was suspended following Marriott hotel bombing after which Pakistan has been largely dependent on Middle Eastern airlines such as Emirates and Etihad.