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First IA flight to Pak in two years lands in Islamabad

Indian Airlines flight IC 003 arrived in Islamabad with External Affairs ministry spokesperson on board.

india Updated: Jan 03, 2004 12:24 IST
Asian News International
Asian News International

The first commercial flight of Indian Airlines to Pakistan in two years, IC 003, touched down at Islamabad airport at 3.45 pm.

It was a one-hour-20-minute flight with only media persons and External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna aboard.

 The IC 003 was first commercial one of Indian Airlines to Pakistan in two years. Indo-Pak air links were snapped in January 2002 after terror attack on Parliament on Dec 13. 
What's decided
To use Airbus 320 with a capacity of 150 people 
Two more special flights to Pakistan on January 6 
To operate bi-weekly flights (every Mon and Friday) from January 9 
What's being decided
'Flights to Kabul via Pak 
'Mumbai-Karachi flights 
Indian Airlines fares
Rs 4,870 one-way and Rs 8,830 return in the business class 
'Rs 3,745 and Rs 6,795 in the economy class
IA, PIA work together
PIA will provide ground and airport handling services to IA in Pak 
IA will reciprocate in Delhi and Mumbai 
Special: Talking Peace
Special: 12th SAARC Meet
Special: Kashmir Conflict

Captain R Mohan at the controls of the A-320, apologised for taking off almost 40 minutes late due to foggy conditions in Delhi.

The service on board was exemplary with a choice of "makhni chicken" or "chicken supreme" for non-vegetarians and "paneer curry" or "spinach cannelloni" for the vegetarians. Alcohol was also served on board, which resulted in some wise cracks about tanking up before entering the "dry zone".

In the hotel rooms, a very suggestive advertising pitch by Nescafe says, "ever tried it on the rocks" (coffee) and another says, "take a trip on the wild side" (cold coffee).

Prohibition is in force in Pakistan but if anybody brought in some hip-flasks, they are lucky because there was no security check at immigration.

At the Rawal lounge at the Islamabad airport, one could see banners with SAARC slogans, which sounded almost bombastic.

Clearly, Pakistan is leaving no stone unturned to convince all delegates that it is giving tremendous importance to SAARC.

Security is all-pervasive, from roads to the hotels to the convention centre. Mounted police, police on rooftops, in cars....just about everywhere without being intrusive.

First Published: Jan 02, 2004 18:23 IST