ISLAMABAD: Virgin Atlantic’s first flight to Pakistan landed at the New Islamabad International Airport on Friday.
“Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight lands in Islamabad,” wrote Advisor to PM on Overseas Pakistani Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari on Twitter. “Great new step for our United Kingdom and European Union based diaspora. Pakistan is more connected and open for travel and tourism today than it has been in decades.”
With him was British High Commission to Pakistan Christian Turner. “Bauhut Mubarak!” wrote Turner on Twitter.
The inaugural flight took off from Manchester Airport on Thursday.
“Pakistan-UK dosti zindabad!”
In a video posted on Twitter, Turner said there was no British carrier flying to Pakistan 18 months ago and “now we have over 20 direct flights a week”.
“This is a sign of real confidence in Pakistan,” he continued. “Our 1.6 billion British-Pakistanis are the heart of our dosti. They will now have more options to visit loved ones, build ties and boost trade. This will be good for tourism and business.”
“When I arrived in Pakistan, you asked me to help change perceptions. A year on, despite the difficulties of COVID-19, we have changed travel advice, seen return of England cricket to Pakistan, and now British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are flying direct.”
“Kyun ke mushkil waqt mein dost hi dost ko agay le kar jata hai [Because friends uplift each other in difficult times],” said the British official. “Pakistan-UK dosti zindabad!“
Founder Virgin Group Richard Branson said he was thrilled that Pakistan one of the first few countries where the Virgin Atlantic had launched flights following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Branson regretted not being on the first flight. “This is the first inaugural flight that I have missed,” he said, thanking Pakistani authorities, British High Commission and Virgin teams to help set up “in record time”.