British airline Virgin Atlantic pakistan islamabad
The first flight of British airline Virgin Atlantic arrived in Islamabad on December 11 as the airline commenced its operations in Pakistan. Image Credit: Virgin Atlantic Twitter

Islamabad: The first flight of British airline Virgin Atlantic landed in Islamabad on Friday from Manchester. The new flight will help improve people-to-people links and boost trade between Pakistan and the UK. The airline will operate four weekly flights on three routes from Pakistan to the United Kingdom, two from Islamabad to London and Manchester and one from Lahore to London.

Pakistan more connected and open for travel

Zulfikar Bukhari, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan for Overseas Pakistanis, along with British High Commissioner Christian Turner welcomed the new British airline at Islamabad International Airport. Bukhari termed the inaugural flight a great new step for Pakistani diaspora based in the United Kingdom and European Union (EU). “Pakistan is more connected and open for travel and tourism today than it has been in decades” he said, thanking the British High Commissioner for his efforts to strengthen Pakistan and UK relations.

“Historic moment”

The UK has the largest Pakistani expatriate community in the world with around 1.6 million people. Dr Christian Turner said the first Virgin Atlantic flight to Pakistan is “a historic moment.” Eighteen months ago, no British airlines were flying to Pakistan. “Today we have over 20 direct flights a week. This is a sign of real confidence in Pakistan”, said the British ambassador. He hoped the new flights will boost tourism and business ties between Pakistan and the UK.

Boost Pak-UK links and trade

Alex McEwan, the country manager of South Asia at Virgin Atlantic, remarked that the company is thrilled to bring its award-winning service to customers in Pakistan. ‘We are confident that passengers will like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying with us beyond London Heathrow, Manchester and North America.” He hoped that services will “boost trade and provide vital contacts between Britain and Pakistan, which is already growing closer ties.”

Virgin Atlantic will also provide fast, efficient cargo service to help increase the volume of trade between the two countries. The UK is the biggest export market in Europe for Pakistani goods such as textiles, apparel and machinery.

Flight safety amid the pandemic

To ensure the safety of customers and crew, Virgin Atlantic announced additional health measures at the airport including the use of electrostatic spraying of high-grade disinfectants in all cabins and lavatories, boarding gates and onboard check-in and thorough cleaning exercises. All customers will be provided with a personal health pack that includes masks, wipes and hand gel.