Islamabad: A British Airways flight landed back in Pakistan Monday, over a decade after the airline suspended operations in September 2008 in the wake of the deadly Mariott Hotel bombing in Islamabad.
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying from Heathrow, London, with 240 passengers landed at Islamabad International Airport (IIA) at 9:15am to the jubilation of Pakistan.
Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Prime Minister's Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari and senior officials of the Aviation Division and British High Commission welcomed the passengers.
Huge banners displayed at the airport carried welcome messages for the airline and its passengers. Special security arrangements were made on the occasion and additional security personnel were deployed around the airport.
"Britain's flag carrier is back. The two countries, so close in so many ways, take a step closer," British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew said in a statement. "It is of course tribute to the great improvements in the security situation in Pakistan in recent years."
British Airways halted services in 2008 in the wake of Mariott suicide bombing that killed more than 50 people in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.
The return of the British Airways was announced last year when June was given the deadline to start flights. Preparation were going since then to make it possible.
The British carrier is running three weekly flights from London's Heathrow airport to Islamabad.
"Return of British Airways is the first step. We will offer and facilitate other airlines to increase international connectivity in Pakistan," Bukhari was quoted as saying by the state-run Radio Pakistan.
The same aircraft departed for Heathrow at 11:10am with passengers on board from Islamabad.