British Airways is set to resume flights from Pakistan, becoming the first Western airline to restart fights to Pakistan. British High Commissioner Thomas Drew has stated that direct flights from London Heathrow to Islamabad International Airport will start from June, saying that this venture of British Airways will act as a boost in trade and economics between Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

The announcement has been met with positive reactions in Pakistan. Most of the credit for bringing British Airways back seems to be attributed to Zulfi Bukhari, Pakistan’s Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis. Indeed Bukhari was present at the press conference at which the British High Commissioner announced his pleasure at the joining in business of British Airways and Islamabad Airport. While it certainly looks as if Bukhari played a large part in convincing British Airways to resume flights to Pakistan, the opposition party PML-N claims that the process to bringing the international airlines back started occurring earlier this year.

However, there are two major reasons why the international airline is resuming business again in Pakistan- and both of them are partially non-partisan. The most evident is the improvement in security conditions of the country, which was the reason why British Airways left Pakistan in the first place. The Airlines decided to wind up business in Pakistan in 2008 after the Hotel Marriott was bombed, citing Pakistani climate as too risky to conduct business. The second more minor reason is the inauguration of a new airport in Islamabad which is able to house bigger planes and provide better facilities to airlines. This proves that good infrastructure can go a long way in bringing business- it is a lesson the state might want to keep in mind considering the recent reports of mismanagement at the airport.

Having international airlines cater to Pakistan increases competition in our airline industry- which is always welcome considering the few players we have left. There is great demand for more accessible airlines- Shaheen Air has wound up, PIA is crumbling, and most foreign airlines have pulled out, leaving Pakistanis with a few Gulf airlines, which make air travel an expensive and cumbersome process for our citizens. More foreign airlines coming back to Pakistan may ease up ticket prices and improve competition in the market, but the biggest benefit this act brings to Pakistan is that it displays British confidence in Pakistan’s security and economy- something which can be a great asset when it comes to foreign investment.