ISLAMABAD: British Airways will resume flights to Pakistan next year after a 10-year absence following a truck bomb attack that killed more than 50 people at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, the carrier and a British official said on Tuesday.
The airline will fly from Heathrow to Islamabad from June 2. It will be the first Western carrier to restart flying to Pakistan, where a new airport in the capital has helped ease congestion and concerns about air travel security, since its pullout in 2008.
“The route will launch as a three-per-week service, operated on a three-class Boeing 787 Dreamliner – British Airways’ newest long-haul fleet that is 20 percent more fuel efficient than other aircraft,” the British High Commission said in a statement released on Tuesday.
Thomas Drew, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, said the airline’s return was “a reflection of the great improvements” in security.
“The links between Britain and Pakistan are already extraordinary – from culture and cricket, to people, politics and education. I see this launch as a vote of confidence in the future of those links,” Drew added in a statement.
British Airways returns to Pakistan. Direct flights from London Heathrow to Islamabad’s new airport start in June. A further boost to links between the UK and Pakistan - especially on trade and investment. @British_Airways pic.twitter.com/TGEjopOVx1— Thomas Drew (@TomDrewUK) December 18, 2018
Robert Williams, Head of Sales for Asia Pacific and the Middle East, said that the route “will be particularly popular with the British Pakistani community who want to visit, or be visited by, their relatives”. “It’s exciting to be flying between Islamabad and Heathrow from next year,” he added.
The airline had a long history of flying to the city and had started its first scheduled flights between London and Islamabad in 1976.
One of the most high-profile attacks in Pakistan’s history took place during a period of devastating Islamist militant violence that swept across the nuclear-armed South Asian nation. But security has improved, with militant attacks sharply down in the country of 208 million people. In Islamabad, a web of road checkpoints dotted across the city for more than a decade has mostly been dismantled.