Virgin Atlantic touched down in Islamabad from Manchester on 11th December for the first time. The airline follows this up with new routes departing from Islamabad to London Heathrow on 13th December and departing from Lahore to London Heathrow on 14th December. UK is home to the largest Pakistani diaspora community in the world, with around 1.6 million people. The new Virgin Atlantic services will provide vital connectivity for friends and relatives visiting family and loved ones, in addition to serving growing demand for business and leisure travel. Virgin Atlantic will operate the state of the art Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on all routes from Pakistan, offering the airline’s Upper Class, Premium and Economy cabins. Passengers can take advantage of over 1,000 hours of in-flight entertainment, which includes a selection of Urdu films and TV programmes. Virgin Atlantic will offer Halal food options for customers along with its award-winning service. Virgin Atlantic will offer seamless connectivity via London Heathrow to North America, offering speedy connections to destinations such as New York JFK, Boston and Los Angeles. Virgin Atlantic will also offer onward connectivity alongside its transatlantic joint venture partner Delta Airlines to more than 200 destinations within North America. As well as transporting customers, Virgin Atlantic will offer a fast, efficient cargo service. This will enable growing trade volumes between exporters and importers in both the UK and Pakistan. The UK is the largest export market for Pakistan in Europe, transporting high volumes of goods such as textiles, apparel and machinery. Passenger safety is Virgin Atlantic’s number one priority and the airline has implemented a ‘Fly Safe, Fly Well’ programme during the Covid-19 pandemic. Alex McEwan, Country Manager – South Asia at Virgin Atlantic, commented; “We are thrilled to bring our award-winning service to customers in Pakistan. We are confident that passengers will love flying with us on our cutting-edge Boeing 787 Dreamliner to London Heathrow, Manchester and beyond to North America. Our services will promote trade and provide vital connectivity between UK and Pakistan, enhancing already close ties. It has been a monumental effort to enable our set up in Pakistan, and I would like to thank the British High Commission and the Pakistan authorities for their unwavering support’. Dr Christian Turner, British High Commissioner Islamabad, Pakistan, commented; “Virgin Atlantic’s arrival in Pakistan for the first time is a historic moment. Our 1.6 million strong Pakistani diaspora in the UK is at the heart of our ties. 18 months ago we had no British airlines flying in Pakistan; today we have over 20 direct flights a week to both Islamabad and Lahore. This is a sign of confidence in Pakistan and will improve people to people links and boost trade. Followed by the change in travel advice and return of England cricket team to Pakistan, it further shows #UKPakDosti.” To ensure the health and safety of customers and crew, Virgin Atlantic is implementing additional measures to offer peace of mind in the airport and when taking to the skies. These include enhanced and thorough cleaning practices at check in, boarding gates and onboard including the use of electrostatic spraying of high-grade disinfectant in all cabins and lavatories before every flight, ensuring no surface is left untouched. Safe distancing will also be adhered to wherever possible, and mask wearing will be required throughout the journey. All customers will be provided with a personal Health Pack for their health and safety, which will contain three medical grade face masks to be worn onboard, surface wipes and hand gel. The airline is offering a temporary simplified hot food service in all cabins. Meals have been redesigned to limit interaction, enclosed and controlled from preparation in a Covid-safe, monitored environment to the moment it is served. Economy and Premium customers will now enjoy a “Fly safe, eat well” meal box, which incorporates a choice of three hot meals, cheese and biscuits and a dessert pot washed down with a selection of beverages. Upper Class customers will receive a choice of three hot meals, desserts, including cheese & biscuits and a ciabatta roll, all delivered to their seat on a tray. All customers will receive a second meal service which, on day flights from the UK, includes the delicious Mile High Tea in collaboration with celebrity pâtissier Eric Lanlard.