British Airways will resume flights to Pakistan from June next year, announced the airline on Tuesday.
"Direct flights from London Heathrow to Islamabad’s new airport to start in June," said British High Commissioner Thomas Drew in a video on Twitter. "A further boost to links between the UK and Pakistan, especially on trade and investment."
In September 2008, British Airways had suspended all its flights to Pakistan "for an indefinite period" citing security concerns in the aftermath of the Marriott Hotel bombing that claimed more than 50 lives and injured more than 250 people.
According to a press release on the airline's website, the route will launch as a three-per-week service, operated on a three-class Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with return fares starting from £499 [roughly Rs89,000].
"All of us at British Airways could not be more pleased to be coming back to Pakistan and we very much look forward to June next year, when our first flight will touch down at your spectacular new airport," said Robert Williams, the British Airways head of sales for Asia Pacific and the Middle East.
He was speaking at a press conference in Islamabad alongside Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Zulfi Bukhari.
"We hope that our new route will allow more people from the United Kingdom to experience what a beautiful country Pakistan is," said Williams.
"British Airways coming back after a decade shows you where we were and how far we've come," Bukhari said, terming the announcement "groundbreaking". "This is a huge achievement for where we [Pakistan] want to be. It's a huge step for this government that it has given foreign investors that security to come back."
He added that this sense of security was "vital" for other various investments to come in.
Bukhari added that the second important point was the "connectivity factor". "British Airways is a prestigious airline," noted Bukhari, who is a dual national of the United Kingdom. "Pakistan is becoming less isolated and becoming more connected to the world — and that's the Pakistan we want to see. We want to see a Pakistan that is heavily connected with the world."
Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, and Industries, Abdul Razzak Dawood, also addressed the media and lauded the airline's decision to fly to Pakistan.