Airline to suspend Pakistan flights

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iol pic wld APTOPIX Pakistan

Associated Press

Smoke rises above the Jinnah International Airport, where security forces battled militants in Karachi, Pakistan. Picture: Shakil Adil

Karachi -

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific is to suspend flights to and from Pakistan, officials said on Tuesday, following last week's brazen attack on Karachi airport which left 38 people dead including the 10 attackers.

“The airline is ceasing its operations in Pakistan for an indefinite time for both security and economic reasons,” Sohail Younas, Pakistan sales manager for Cathay Pacific, told AFP.

On Monday Taliban militants warned international firms and airlines to wind up their business in Pakistan or face attacks in the wake of a Pakistani military offensive launched the day before.

A spokeswoman in Hong Kong, where the airline is headquartered, added: “Because of commercial reasons, we have decided that the last flight leaving Hong Kong to Karachi will depart on June 28.”

Cathay said in a statement on its website it would operate 14 more flights to and from Karachi before operations cease.

“This is to avoid disruptions for the hundreds of passengers who will be travelling prior to the holy month of Ramadaan,” it said.

The last flights from Karachi to Bangkok and vice versa would depart on June 29, it said.

Younas said the company would continue to evaluate the situation in Pakistan for future operations.

Cathay Pacific currently operates four flights a week from Karachi to international destinations.

It is the latest international carrier to cease operations inside the militancy-racked country after British Airways pulled out in 2008 following an attack on a luxury hotel in Islamabad.

The all-night siege of Karachi airport that began on June 8 was the latest in a series of high-profile attacks on key installations claimed by the Taliban in recent years, including an assault on a naval base in 2011 and on the military's headquarters in 2009. - Sapa-AFP


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