Britain Airways team to visit Islamabad airport next week to assess security measures


ISLAMABAD, JAN 23 (DNA) – A team of senior officials from Britain’s national flag-carrier will be visiting Pakistan next week to inspect whether all prerequisite security measures are in place before the airline resumes its flights to Islamabad in June after a 10-year break.

“The main purpose of the visit will be to engage the Pakistani authorities on the critical security measures which British Airways (BA) will require full implementation of before they commence operations in June,” read a letter written by British Deputy High Commissioner Richard Crowder to Secretary Aviation Division Shahrukh Nusrat.

During the visit, according to the letter, the BA team would like to visit the new Islamabad International Airport to “see first-hand the security measures in operation and to understand the infrastructure and services in place to support [BA] flights to and from Islamabad”.

The deputy high commissioner wrote that the resumption of directs flights to Pakistan by Britain’s flag-carrier was excellent news for both the countries.

“I see British Airways’ return as a vote of confidence in the future of our two countries’ links, and, of course, a reflection of the great improvements in the security situation in Pakistan in recent years,” he wrote.

BA’s head of worldwide airports, Paul Coventry, International Risk Adviser David Craig and Director Safety and Security John Monks will be visiting the country on January 29-30. The team is expected to visit the Islamabad airport on either day of their visit.

In September 2008, British Airways had suspended all its flights to Pakistan “for an indefinite period” citing security concerns in the aftermath of the Marriott Hotel bombing that claimed more than 50 lives and injured more than 250 people.

The airline last month decided to resume direct flights from London Heathrow to Islamabad’s new airport. According to a press release issued on BA’s website, the route will launch as a three-per-week service, operated on a three-class Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with return fares starting from £499 [roughly Rs91,000].