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India, Pak resume air links

January 01, 2004 19:17 IST

Raising hopes of normalisation of relations, a green and white Boeing 737 of Pakistan International Airlines on Thursday touched down at the Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi marking resumption of air links between the two countries, which had remained suspended for two years after the attack on Parliament.

Indian Airlines will resume flights to Pakistan from January 9.

The PIA plane landed at 1600 IST with just 40 passengers on board, most of who are here to meet relatives or further business relations in India.

"This 45-minute flight drastically cuts down travelling time to India. Earlier, I had to spend nearly 20 hours at Dubai airport to come to India," said Lahore-based Aamir Abbas, who owns an air-conditioning firm. He is elated over the saving of time and money and looks forward to business deals here. He hopes interaction between the countries would increase.

If baby Noor became the face of the thaw in Indo-Pak relations after the resumption of the Lahore-Delhi bus service, it was the turn of 10-month old Sidra is here to meet her father in Bhopal. "My daughter Ayesha was married in a family in Bhopal and her husband later settled in the United States," the infant's grandfather Yusuf Iftekar said.

An Air-India flight (AI 843) to the Gulf from Delhi and another to New York (AI 111) from Mumbai via London flew over Pakistan air space on Thursday morning, an airline spokesman in Mumbai said.

Meanwhile, PIA is to operate its Karachi-Mumbai flight on Friday with 161 passengers. A PIA spokesman said 220 passengers have been booked on the return flight to Karachi along with 8.5 tonnes of cargo, which includes 4.5 tonnes of betel leaves and pharmaceutical products. The fare is Rs 8,315 (economy class) and Rs 10,810 (business class).

PIA is to operate a twice-a-week service between Karachi and Mumbai on Mondays and Fridays while Indian Airlines, which is to begin its services from January 9, is likely to fly on Tuesdays and Fridays with an A320 aircraft.

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