British airline Virgin Atlantic announced to suspend its services to Pakistan, on Monday, and apologised for ‘any inconvenience caused’.
In a statement, the airline announced to cease its operations between London, Lahore and Islamabad.
“As we continue to ramp up our flying programme in 2023, we’ve taken the opportunity to review our entire network and decided to make a few changes,” a spokesperson said in the communiqué.
“Following this review, it is with regret that we’ve taken the difficult decision to suspend our services between London Heathrow and Pakistan,” it added.
The spokesperson further said that the decision to shutdown the operations was not “taken lightly”.
The airline’s official further said that they, “wholeheartedly thank everyone in Pakistan; our customers, teams, partners and the authorities for their support over the past two years,” the spokesperson said.
Virgin Atlantic, he maintained, would continue to operate between London and Lahore until May 1, and between London and Islamabad until July 9.
The airline said it would intimate with those who were due to fly after the said dates as well as those who would be affected by cancellations, with the “rebooking, where applicable, or a full refund” options.
‘You killed PIA’
Meanwhile, Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, a close aide to former prime minister Imran Khan, termed the decision ‘another failure’ of the incumbent government.
“Virgin suspends all flights to Pakistan. Yet another collapse and failure by this government. We worked and focused on connectivity with the world via International airlines,” Bukhari said in a Twitter post.
“Even during Covid we managed to keep them all operational. The current government is worse for us than any pandemic,” the aide, better known as Zulfi Bukhari, said.
But the comment soon invited a strong response from lawyer Ayesha Ijaz Khan, reminding Bukhari what his own government, led by Imran Khan, did to the national flag carrier.
“You killed PIA on that route and then got Virgin to come in. Foreign airlines are unpredictable. As you should recall, after 9/11, all western stopped coming into Pakistan. PIA operated all through. Until you guys killed it.”