Tue, 25 Jun 2019

British Airways to restart flights to Pakistan in 2019 as security imp

By Sheetal Sukhija, Hong Kong News
19 Dec 2018, 10:07 GMT+10

LONDON, U.K. - Ten years after halting flights to Pakistan over an attack, which was one of the most high-profile bombings in the history of the nation - British Airways has now announced plans to resume operations.

Addressing reporters in Islamabad, Richard Crowder, the Deputy British High Commissioner to Pakistan announced British Airways' return to the country, claiming that the decision was largely due to "an improvement in the security environment in this country."

Following the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing which killed over 50 people in the Pakistani capital city, British Airways decided to halt all flights to the country - that had been dealing with one of its most devastating periods of Islamist militant violence at the time.

British Airways, which is owned by IAG said that it will restart flights to Pakistan next year.

On June 2, British Airways will begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service, with three weekly flights.

The airline will operate its newest long-haul aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route.

British Airways will become the first Western airline to restart flights to the South Asian nation next year.

Welcoming the move, Pakistani officials said that the decision by British Airways will offer confidence to other foreign investors and make the country less isolated.

Pakistan's Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood said, "Once it gets around the world that British Airways has put its stamp of approval on Pakistan, it will put us one or two notches up as a country to do business with."

Further, Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, a special assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, said, "British Airways coming back after a decade shows you where we were and how far we have come. Pakistan is becoming less isolated and more connected to the world, and thats the Pakistan we want to see."

Currently, only the country's national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flies directly from Pakistan to Britain.

Commenting on the decision by the airline, Robert Williams, Head of Sales for Asia Pacific and the Middle East for British Airways, said the carrier believes the route "will be particularly popular with the British Pakistani community who want to visit, or be visited by, their relatives."

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