A Pakistan International Airline (PIA) plane taxis on the runway. (Photo: FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images)

A WOMAN passenger aboard a Pakistan International Airlines caused panic on Friday night (7) after she mistakenly opened the emergency exit door of the aircraft thinking it was the toilet.

The flight was heading to Islamabad from Manchester, and by erroneously opening the emergency exit, the passenger activated the emergency chute. The offloaded passengers were provided transportation and hotel accommodation.

“As per standard operating procedure, the PIA had to offload nearly 40 passengers and their luggage,” a spokesperson for the airlines was quoted as saying.

The aircraft resumed its journey to Pakistan seven hours later.

PIA spokesperson Mashood Tajwar told The Express Tribune that “there was no threat of any kind.”

Officials at Manchester Airport has rubbished reports that the airline was on the runway when the incident happened.

Earlier this month, passengers on a PIA flight from Islamabad to Karachi raised voices after they were served stale bread and undercooked chicken.

Up until now, PIA had monopoly flying to and from the UK to Pakistan. But that changed with the British Airways’ decision to resume flights to Pakistan.

The BA had halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.

But security has since improved and Pakistan has transformed itself into a destination for tourists as well as investors.

British trade secretary Dr Liam Fox MP said: “The relaunch of British Airways flights between the UK and Pakistan after more than ten years will be a major boost for trade between our two countries.

“It is no surprise that it is an iconic British airline that is the first western airline to fly return to Pakistan, a symbol of the strong and growing relationship between our two countries.”

Other airlines that have a strong presence in Pakistan include Middle Eastern carriers Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates, and Turkish Airlines.