September 2008: British Airways suspends all flights to Pakistan indefinitely following a suicide attack on the Marriot Hotel in Islamabad.
December 2018: British Airways announces the resumption of operations in Pakistan.
The two headlines may be a decade apart but have a strong impact on Pakistan's aviation sector. Most importantly, it reiterates a positive image of the country and may pave way for other airlines and businesses to return to the country.
British Airways to restart flight operations in Pakistan after a decade
Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major-General Asif Ghafoor said the "dividends of decades-long struggle of Pakistani nation and its security forces for the restoration of peace and stability in the country are on the way".
The dividends of decades long struggle of Pakistani nation and its security forces for restoration of peace and stability in the country are on the way. Thanks to @British_Airways for reviving its flight operations in Pakistan.@TomDrewUK#PeacefulPakistan#ہمیں_آگے_ہی_جانا_ہے— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) December 18, 2018
In a video message on Twitter, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew welcomed British Airways launching London-Islamabad direct flights. He The British envoy added that the “return of British Airways will give a particular boost to trade and investment links between UK and Pakistan.”
British Airways returns to Pakistan. Direct flights from London Heathrow to Islamabad’s new airport start in June. A further boost to links between the UK and Pakistan - especially on trade and investment. @British_Airways pic.twitter.com/TGEjopOVx1— Thomas Drew (@TomDrewUK) December 18, 2018
Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari said airlines meant connectivity. "British Airways resuming operations after a decade is a huge leap for Pakistan! Glad to have helped in my humble capacity."
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi congratulated Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Zulfikar Bukhari, as well as, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew on the resumption of British Airways flights to Pakistan
The federal minister said the decision is an acknowledgement of Islamabad's continued efforts for peace and elimination of terrorism
Delighted to learn British Airways will be resuming flights to Pakistan. Well done @sayedzbukhari & a special thank you to the British High Commissioner @TomDrewUK . This decision is an acknowledgement of Pakistan's continued efforts for peace & elimination of terrorism.— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) December 18, 2018
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry also welcomed the reopening of British Airways flights to Pakistan.
He requested that other countries to also review travel advisories to Pakistan which according to him is as safe as any other country.
welcome @British_Airways in Pak,beautiful Country of ours is misunderstood by many, hope this event ll encourage others to start operations asap,Travel Advisory needs to be reviewed Pak is as safe as other Countries,isolated events must not be made basis of adverse advisory— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) December 18, 2018
Finance Minister Asad Umar also acknowledged the reduction of travel advisories to Pakistan in the wake of the international airline's decision to the country with Portugal previously dropping travel advisory for its citizens.
Portugal drops all travel advisories for its citizens coming to Pakistan. British airways decides to resume flights to Pakistan. Victory against the terrorists bearing fruit of reducing isolation of Pakistan. Inshallah next summer will see record tourists coming to Pakistan— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) December 18, 2018
"Great News! British Airways resumes flights to Pakistan from Britain after 10 years," said Member British Parliament Attaur Rehman Chisti.
Great News @British_Airways resumes flights to 🇵🇰 from 🇬🇧 after 10 years, having worked on this as a former Gov Trade Envoy to 🇵🇰 with the then brilliant Minister @GregHands at @tradegovuk & former High Commissioner Ibne Abbas. Pictured discussing issue with all at CHOGM 18. 👍 pic.twitter.com/uKQOhLKQZ5— Rehman Chishti (@Rehman_Chishti) December 18, 2018
Former Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal shared a throwback image of when he took up the issue with British Home Secretary.
"Very pleased to hear British Airways starting service to Pakistan. I strongly took up this issue with British Home Secretary in my last visit of UK in April, 2018. British HC
Very pleased to hear British Airways starting service to Pakistan. I strongly took up this issue with British Home Secretary in my last visit of UK in April, 2018. British HC @TomDrewUK too worked hard to get it revived. https://t.co/Rx3Y2iLMcS— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) December 18, 2018
For most, it was a ray of hope:
Resumption of @British_Airways flight means, cricket is coming to Pakistan soon.— Syedih (@SyedIHusain) December 18, 2018
More International companies to follow.
Pakistan is rising day by day. Happy to see that kind of Improvement after a long time. "British Airways"— Khan (@saleemkamikhan) December 18, 2018
Excellent News🗞.— Adil Najam (@AdilNajam) December 18, 2018
Welcome back #BritishAirways@British_Airways✈️ to start flying to #Pakistan🇵🇰 next year. One hears that another major international airline to announce flights resumption soon.
Next step, lets get #PIA expand its network, improve its service. pic.twitter.com/fEWoG0I9pj
Some had doubts:
British Airways launching direct flights is not good news it's bad!— Ali Moeen Nawazish (@am_nawazish) December 18, 2018
1. Foreign Exchange depletion
2. PIA further losing out on it's direct flight market share.
If the only thing you care about is OH MY GOD! BRITISH AIRWAYS! PAKISTAN WOHOOO! I AM SO COOL!
Go and celerbate!
The move made its way into sports:
Mourinho sacked— Ali (@Oye4thHokage) December 18, 2018
British Airways to resume flights to Pakistan
2019 looks very promising