The inaugural flight of British airline Virgin Atlantic, which took off from Manchester, landed in Islamabad on Friday morning. The staff and passengers of the flight were greeted by British High Commissioner (HC) in Islamabad Christian Turner along with PM Special Assistant for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari at Islamabad airport. Virgin Atlantic has become the second UK airline which will be operating regular flights to Pakistan. British Airways has already resumed flights to Pakistan since this summer. The airline will be operating three routes flying directly from London Heathrow to Lahore, London Heathrow to Islamabad, as well as from Manchester to Islamabad. British HC Christian Tuner on this occasion said the beginning of the airline’s operations to Pakistan was a “historic moment”. He said eighteen months ago we had no British airlines flying in Pakistan; today we have over 20 direct flights a week to both Islamabad and Lahore, adding that this is a sign of confidence in Pakistan and will improve people to people links and boost trade. Turner said “Our 1.6 million strong Pakistani diaspora in the UK is at the heart of our ties,” adding they have now more options to visit their loved ones, build ties and boost trade. He further said this will be good for tourism and business. HC Turner recalls that last year since his arrival in Islamabad, despite the difficulties of Covid, UK have changed travel advice for Pakistan, seen the return of England cricket to Pakistan and now British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are flying directly because friends are the ones who lift each other up in difficult times. UK Pakistan friendship and relationship Zindabad, Christian Tuner concluded. 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. In addition, 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 and have introduced special meals catering for individual dietary requirements including Halal, vegetarian, vegan and gluten free. Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic commented: “Pakistan is an extremely exciting opportunity for us . it boasts one of the largest foreign-born populations in both the UK and the US and, as people start to travel to visit loved ones, we’re anticipating the demand? to visit friends and relatives will increase post COVID-19. Both Lahore and Islamabad are popular year-round?destinations?and we look forward to welcoming travellers onboard as demand for leisure and business travel gradually increases to the region”.