ISLAMABAD - British Airways will resume flights from Islamabad next week, more than a decade after suspending operation citing security threats.

The British Airways said it will begin flights between London and Islamabad next week. “The final touches are coming together for the airline’s return ahead of the first flight on Sunday June 2,” said a statement issued here.

British Airways had in September 2008 suspended all flights to Pakistan indefinitely following a suicide bomb attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad. The attack had killed more than 53 people and injured around 250, including six Britons.

BA then operated six flights a week between London and Islamabad. The airline said flights would be suspended ‘indefinitely’ because of the turmoil in Pakistan. “We will not compromise on the safety of our customers, staff or planes,” a statement at that time had said.

The announcement had come after the United Kingdom tightened up its own advice to Britons travelling to Pakistan.

Yesterday, the BA said three-per-week service will be operated on 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) available.

3-flights-per-week service starts on June 2

“The 787 is British Airways’ newest long-haul aircraft that is 20 percent more fuel-efficient than other aircraft and features larger windows, mood lighting and the latest inflight entertainment system. The lower cabin pressure means customers step off the flight feeling fresh,” it said.

Customers travelling can expect bespoke services to enhance the on-board experience including a halal meal option in every cabin, while the airline will also ensure sauces in every meal do not include alcohol or pork, said the statement.

“As with any British Airways flight, customers can also pre-order a range of special meal options including vegetarian and vegan options,”  it said.

The airline has a number of Pakistani and British Pakistani colleagues who speak Urdu, and there has already been considerable interest from these colleagues to work on the flights.

Andrew Brem, Chief Commercial Officer at British Airways, said: “The excitement is building as we put the final touches to this exciting route launch. 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 both English and Urdu, and is one of the crew operating the inaugural flight, said: “I can’t wait for what will be such a wonderful occasion. To be chosen to operate this flight, with my close family links to Pakistan, is a real honour. I know that my colleagues operating the flight are just as excited.”

British Airways’ long-haul flights include extremely generous hand baggage allowances – one large cabin bag with a small laptop or handbag - complimentary food and drink, online check-in and free seat selection 24 hours prior to departure. Customers landing in to London can connect on to British Airways’ network which includes over 30 destinations across North America, with over 70 flights per day to the US through the airline’s joint business with American Airlines. Customers can also connect to over 30 countries in Europe.

Return fares between London and Islamabad start from as little as £448 in World Traveller, £709 in World Traveller Plus and £1,499 in Club World.  These can be reduced to as little as £248 in World Traveller, £459 in World Traveller Plus and £499 in Club World by using Avios part payment.  As always, customers can choose to cut the cost of flights by using Avios part payment. They are able to pick from a range of savings by destination and cabin. Customers making the most of this are still able to collect Avios and Tier Points on their bookings.

British Airways is amid a £6.5 billion investment for customers, including the installation of the best quality WiFi and power in every seat, fitting 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors and taking delivery of 72 new aircraft.

Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis, played an important role to pave the way for British carrier’s return.

In December 2018, Bukhari had tweeted: “British Airways’ return to Pakistan means positive outlook of the country in the west. The stability that Pakistan has achieved in the current government’s tenure in office is being recognized by the global corporations.”

He also said that a big name like British Airways coming to Pakistan meant that international community was recognising Pakistan’s potential as the new investment destination in the world.