British Airways has resumed direct service to Pakistan, more than 10 years after suspending operations due to security fears. Flight BA261, which took off from London’s Heathrow airport on the afternoon of June 2, landed at Islamabad International Airport early on June 3.
Thomas Drew, Britain’s top diplomat to Pakistan, called it a “big day” for Britain and Pakistan. “@British_Airways first flight on its new direct service to Islamabad…can look forward to a warm welcome when it lands here tomorrow,” he tweeted.
British Airways stopped flying to Pakistan in 2008, shortly after a suicide truck bombing that killed more than 50 people at Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel. In December last year, the British carrier announced that it will return this month with three weekly flights from London’s Heathrow airport to the Pakistani capital.
The announcement was “a reflection of the great improvements in the security situation in Pakistan” in the years since, Drew said at the time. A little-known militant group claimed responsibility for the devastating September 2008 attack in Islamabad, but authorities blamed Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Pakistan has battled homegrown militancy for nearly 15 years, with tens of thousands of people killed. Britain is home to more than 1 million residents of Pakistani origin, making it the largest Pakistani diaspora community in Europe.
Pakistan International Airlines was previously the only carrier with direct flights between the two countries. (RFERL)