(GN ): British Airways has resumed flights to Pakistan, more than a decade after the route was suspended following a hotel bombing.
BA stopped flights to the country after a 2008 terrorist attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad killed at least 54 people including six British citizens.
It will be the only Western airline to serve Pakistan when flights between London Heathrow and Islamabad resume on Sunday evening.
The service, scheduled to fly three times a week, will be operated with Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft and will serve the Pakistani capital’s main international airport.
The new airport was opened in 2018, easing concerns about both security and congestion.
British Airways said it will offer “bespoke services” including a halal meal option in every class of cabin and ensuring sauces used in meals do not include alcohol or pork.
It revealed there has been “considerable interest” from its Urdu-speaking Pakistani and British Pakistani cabin crew to work on the flights.
Andrew Brem, chief commercial officer at British Airways, said: “The anticipation from customers and colleagues has been palpable and we hope customers in both the UK and Pakistan will enjoy the classically British service we offer, with thoughtful bespoke touches.”
Aftab Khan, who speaks English and Urdu, is one of the crew operating the inaugural flight, which is due to depart London at 9.15pm.
“To be chosen to operate this flight, with my close family links to Pakistan, is a real honour,” he said.
British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew said British Airways was joining an “increasing number of British companies doing business in Pakistan”.
It comes after Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan reportedly personally intervened with phone calls to lobby for the resumption of flights to the country.
One of the flight operators he reached out to was BA, according to a report in the Financial Times.
Additional reporting by PA