LONDON – British Airways completed their first nonstop flight to Islamabad, Pakistan for the first time in over 10 years. The carrier had closed the route a decade ago following security concerns in the Asian country.
When the announcement was made about the cancellation of the route, British Airways said in a statement: “In light of the security situation in Pakistan we have canceled our flights from Heathrow to Islamabad indefinitely. The safety of our customers, crew, and aircraft is of paramount importance.”
Ten years on, British Airways is the first western carrier to return to Pakistan with direct flights from the U.K.
Andrew Brem, Chief Commercial Officer at British Airways, was onboard the historic flight. “Today is a great occasion for British Airways as we resume flights to Islamabad after a decade,” he said.
“The atmosphere on board our state-of-the-art 787 aircraft was spectacular, as was the warm welcome on the ground. British Airways has a proud history of flying to Pakistan – we first operated flights to Islamabad in 1976 – and we couldn’t be more excited to be back.”
The flight is being operated on a three times weekly service with flights departing on Sunday, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from London-Heathrow.
The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner deployed on the route is fitted with a tri-class configuration, with World Traveller (long-haul economy), work traveler Plus (long-haul premium economy) and Club World (long-haul business class).
This particular aircraft being is one of the 128 long-haul planes that are being fitted with British Airways’ new interiors, installed with the highest quality WiFi with power in every seat.
The 787 is part of the carrier’s £6.5 billion investment for passenger and customers as they look to update their fleet, not just inside but with new 72 aircraft that the airline also has on order. The newest addition to BA’s fleet, the Airbus A350-1000, is expected to join the fleet in the coming months.
The UK’s International Trade Secretary, Dr. Liam Fox MP, noted during the ceremony that “the relaunch of British Airways flights between the UK and Pakistan after more than ten years will be a major boost for trade between our two countries.”
“It is no surprise that it is an iconic British airline that is the first western airline to fly return to Pakistan, a symbol of the strong and growing relationship between our two countries,” Fox added.
“I congratulate the British Airways team, the British High Commission and the impressive efforts of the Pakistani government for making this happen. We are confident that British Airways will act as a catalyst to bring even more British companies to one of the world’s largest markets.”
With the re-launch of the route to Pakistan, only time will tell if other western carriers will follow suit and return to Islamabad.
After many years of political turmoil in the country and with heightened security risk in recent years, many airlines and governments will be watching what British Airways do with the route closely.