BA prepares for 1st Pakistan flight after decade-long suspension

BriYYZ, CC BY-SA 2.0

After a decade of suspension, British Airways is returning to Islamabad, Pakistan. The airline is launching the new route on June 2, 2019, just before Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

British Airways initially revealed plans to launch three-per-week service to the capital of Pakistan in December 2018. A Boeing 787 Dreamliner is going to be employed for the task and the flights are to land at the newly-built Islamabad International Airport (OPIS), which commenced full operations a year ago, in May 2018.

More recently, on May 22, 2019, the airline also pointed out that the (re)inaugural flight is planned “in time for Eid” and the passengers onboard can expect a halal meal option in every cabin and, it implied, an Urdu-speaking crew.

Eid al-Fitr, “the festival of the breaking of the fast”, marks the end of Ramadan and is one of the most important celebrations in Islam. This year, it is expected to begin around June 4, but the exact day depends on sighting of the new moon.

British Airways expects the route to be popular among British Pakistani community. “It’s exciting to be flying between Islamabad and Heathrow from next year, which we believe will be particularly popular with the British Pakistani community who want to visit, or be visited by, their relatives,” according to Robert Williams, Head of Sales for Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Based on the last full UK census, which was carried out in 2011, the community exceeds 1.17 million people and is the largest Pakistani community in Europe.

British Airways used to operate UK-Pakistan service until 2008. After Islamabad’s Marriott Hotel attack in September 2008, which left at least 53 dead and over 200 injured, the airline suspended the flights on security grounds. 

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