ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and the United Kingdom yesterday pledged to expand ties further after the first British Airways flight landed in Islamabad after 10 years.

A British High Commission team along with the Federal Minister for Aviation, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Investment, and Advisor to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis, welcomed the aircraft in Islamabad as both the Union Flag and Pakistan’s national flag were waved from the cockpit roof hatch. On-board the first flight from London was Andrew Brem, Chief Commercial Officer at British Airways.

The British Airways has officially opened an office in Islamabad for the airline’s local dedicated team, which is a testament to the investment the airline is making in the country.

British High Commissioner Thomas Drew, Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Brem and Chief Pilot of the inaugural flight Captain Rod Young met Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The British High Commission later arranged a news conference which was attended by the British High Commissioner, Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Brem, Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood and Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan.

Crew presented flowers and sweets to 240 passengers

Speaking on the occasion, International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said the re-launch 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,” the British lawmaker said.

Fox added: “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.”

The British High Commissioner said: “Today is a big day for the UK and Pakistan.  With British Airways’ new direct service between London and Islamabad, Britain’s flag carrier is back.  The two countries, already so close in so many ways, take a step closer.”

“This flight is a symbol of the extraordinary links between our two countries – from commerce, culture and cricket to people, politics and education.  I see this new service as a vote of confidence in the future of those links.  It will give a particular boost to trade and investment.  And it is of course tribute to the great improvements in the security situation in Pakistan in recent years. Welcome back,” he added.

Chief Commercial Officer at British Airways Andrew Brem said: “Today is a great occasion for British Airways as we resume flights to Islamabad after a decade.”

Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan welcomed the initiative of British Airways for resuming their flight operation in Pakistan.

Flights will run three-per-week on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from London Heathrow, operated using a three-class Boeing 787 Dreamliner with World Traveller (long-haul economy), World Traveller Plus (long-haul premium economy) and Club World (long-haul business class).