Last week in travel: British Airways returns to Pakistan after 10 years

Visitor numbers to US drop, while Emirates launch superjumbo’s shortest route and Amsterdam fights overtourism with an unusual initiative

United Kingdom’s flag carrier — British Airways — has reestablished its service to Pakistan after more than a decade of suspension. On Sunday, 2 June, the airline relaunched its route between London Heathrow and Islamabad.

British Airways haulted the operation to Islamabad in 2008 — Fasttailwind / Shutterstock Last week in travel: British Airways returns to Pakistan after 11 years
British Airways halted the operation to Islamabad in 2008 — Fasttailwind / Shutterstock

The three-per-week service is operated on a three-class Boeing 787 Dreamliner and will serve the Pakistani capital‘s main international airport opened in 2018.

“The excitement is building as we put the final touches to this exciting route launch,” said Andrew Brem, chief commercial officer at British Airways when announcing the renewed service.

“The anticipation from customers and colleagues has been palpable and we hope customers in both the UK and Pakistan will enjoy the classically British service we offer, with thoughtful bespoke touches.”

The 787 is British Airways’ newest long-haul aircraft is 20 per cent more fuel-efficient than other aircraft. It also features larger windows, mood lighting and the latest inflight entertainment system. The lower cabin pressure means customers step off the flight feeling fresh.

Customers can choose from three fares — World Traveller (long-haul economy), World Traveller Plus (long-haul premium economy) and Club World (long-haul business class).

Amsterdam fights overtourism with a marry a Dutch initiative

Like many other popular destinations in the world, the capital of the Netherlands has been struck by the ever-growing influx of tourists. To improve the worsening relationships between visitors and residents, a local group has decided to launch an unusual measure — the Untourist Movement.  

The participants will undergo a 35-minute ceremony complete with rings, vows and proper attire — Shutterstock
The participants will undergo a 35-minute ceremony complete with rings, vows and proper attire — Shutterstock

While there are only one million inhabitants in the city, more than 19 million visitors come each year. In ten years, this number is likely to jump to 29 million.

As a part of the initiative, the city also launched a programme called Marry an Amsterdammer where visitors can wed a Dutch person for a day. The programme should give tourists an opportunity to experience Amsterdam differently and is supposed to give growing numbers of visitors a way to contribute positively to the city.

While there is no legal binding, the participants will undergo a 35-minute ceremony complete with rings, vows and proper attire. According to Untourist Amsterdam co-founder Sabine Linz, the “honeymoon” after the ceremony means exploring lesser-known spots in the city.

“It’s a bit of a pity if everybody just remains in their own world and does the standard tourist thing when we could be meeting each other, connecting with people from other cultures and meeting the challenges of mankind together,” Elena Simons, one of the social entrepreneurs behind the Untourist Movement, told Telegraph Travel.

United States experience biggest drop in tourism in four years

While Amsterdam tries to solve its overtourism issue, the United States fear the opposite. Since 2015 the country has experienced the biggest drop in visitor numbers. In March this year, the number was 5.4 per cent lower than during the same period in 2018.

The results have raised concerns in an industry — Shutterstock
The results have raised concerns in the industry — Shutterstock

Tourism also fell in February, however, the figure was 0.2 per cent more modest, according to the US Travel Association.

“The outlook for international inbound travel remains lacklustre, suggesting that a further loss of global market share is in the cards for the US in 2019,” said David Huether, senior vice president for research at US Travel, the industry trade association.

These results have raised concerns in an industry which has also been beset by labour shortages. The sector partially relies on seasonal workers from overseas who have it harder to obtain a visa under the current administration.

Tourism sector plays a vital role in the US economy. It represents 11 per cent of the country’s total trade surplus of $77.4 billion.

Last year, international tourism generated $197 billion for the US economy.

Emirates launches Airbus A380 shortest route

Only 340 kilometres long and taking an hour and 15 minutes in total. That is the shortest route that the world’s largest commercial aeroplane operates from now on. On Saturday, 1 July United Arab Emirates-based airline — Emirates — selected two of its Airbuses A380 for its service between Dubai and Muscat.

The world’s largest commercial plane will operate its whortes route between Dubai an Muscat — Olaf Schulz / Shutterstock
The world’s largest commercial plane will operate its shortest route between Dubai and Muscat — Olaf Schulz / Shutterstock

On superjumbos, passengers can choose from three classes, with a total capacity of 519 seats. There will be 429 seats in economy, 76 flat beds in business and 14 first class private suites on the upper deck of the A380.

“The introduction of the A380 services to Muscat means more of our customers will have the opportunity to experience our industry-leading products onboard, and will also enhance choice and travel preferences as they plan their journeys,” said Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, divisional senior vice president of the Commercial Operations Centre.

While this journey will be pretty short for such a massive aircraft, the shortest route operated by a commercial plane lies in the other part of the world.

A flight connecting Westray with Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, takes just 90 seconds.

Senior travels to Rome, ends up in German village of Rom instead

Never trust your GPS. That’s what 81-year-old Luigi Rimonti probably thinks now after his device installed in his car took him in a peculiar direction.

Satellite navigation is not the most reliable device — Shutterstock
Satellite navigation is not the most reliable device — Shutterstock

Not a fan of flying, Luigi decided to travel from Newcastle, United Kingdom, to the Italian capital of Rome by car. But instead of meeting the Pope as intended, he ended up in the German village of Rom.

Rimonti actually blames the fault on a petrol station staff in Dusseldorf. He asked them to fix it when it stopped working. The staff fixed the device but the result was something else than expected.

“It told me I had to come off the motorway, but everything became more rural. Then my sat nav said ‘destination reached’. I thought ‘mamma mia, where am I?’,” Rimonti said.

He parked his car to investigate the situation but, unfortunately, forgot to put the handbrake on. The car started to roll down a hill. He tried to stop the car but was hit by an open door. Ironically, his Jaguar knocked down an actual road sign for Rom which stopped it from moving.