(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
ISLAMABAD - British Airways will resume flights to Pakistan next year after a 10-year absence following an Islamist militant truck bomb that killed more than 50 people at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, the carrier and a British official said on Tuesday.
It will be the first Western carrier to restart flying to Pakistan, where a new airport in the capital has helped ease congestion and concerns about air travel security, since its pullout in 2008.One of the most high-profile attacks in Pakistan's history took place during a period of devastating Islamist militant violence that swept across the nuclear-armed South Asian nation.
But security has improved, with militant attacks sharply down in the mainly Muslim country of 208 million people. In Islamabad, a web of road checkpoints dotted across the city for more than a decade has mostly been dismantled.
Thomas Drew, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, said BA's return was a "a reflection of the great improvements" in security.
BA, which is owned by Spanish-registered IAG, is due to begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service on June 15, with three weekly flights by the airline's newest long-haul aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
At present, only loss-making national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flies directly from Pakistan to Britain, but its aging fleet of planes is a frequent source of complaints by passengers.
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