Pakistan’s largest private sector airline, Airblue announced plans to expand its domestic and international route network as the demand in travel picks up following a gradual recovery in the global aviation industry.
Airblue operates 56 scheduled flights linking domestic destinations, Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Multan with international destinations of UAE airports Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Ras al Khaimah, and KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) airports of Jeddah and Riyadh.
Flights to UK and Turkey to expand Airblue international links
The Managing Director of the airline stated that the UAE is their biggest and most active international market and they would strengthen their operations in line with the rising demand from the passengers.
The managing director of Airblue, Chaudhary Mohammad Aslam said the airline would resume its flight operations to the United Kingdom later this year once the flight restrictions on Pakistani airlines are lifted by the European authorities. The airline is soon planning to launch its flights to Istanbul.
The company is planning to expand their flight operations in Saudi Arabia by adding Madinah, Riyadh and Daman from major cities of the country, according to the managing director.
The managing director stated that globally the industry was still struggling to offset the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and that Airblue was no exception.
He said that oil prices are still trading in three digits and causing disturbance in the aviation sector. Pakistan is also facing challenges due to volatility with the Pakistan rupee.
Mr Aslam also said that the aviation industry in general and airlines in particular would not recover unless the oil prices fall to USD70 per barrel. He added that while recovery would take time, it was good to witness an increase in travel demand.
The airline has just started its Haj flights from Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Multan.
Airblue is the only airline in the private sector from Pakistan to participate in Haj operations, which is led by Pakistan International Airlines to carry around 80,000 passengers during the two month operation of regular and special flights.
Following the successful flight tests, Aslam said Airblue would be starting regular flights to Skardu by the middle of next month.
Amid growing demand by domestic tourists who wish to visit scenic Gilgit-Baltistan during the ongoing tourism season, the airline would start direct flights to Skardu from Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore.
The managing director also said that Airblue would be the first airline in the private sector to operate regular flights to Gilgit-Baltistan. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has already been running its flight operations to Skardu from Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Sialkot.
Mr. Aslam added that the company may start regular flights on this route by mid-July following the success of the test flight between Islamabad and Skardu.
The private airline was started in 2003 but its flight operations commenced on June 18, 2004 with three leased Airbus A320-200s, operating on two domestic routes, Karachi-Islamabad and Karachi-Lahore.
Today there are a fleet of eleven aircraft to aid major domestic and international destinations. The fleet comprises five Airbus A321-200s, two A321-200neos and four A320-200s.
Mr Aslam added, stating one more aircraft would join the airline fleet and this year the company has received two new A321-200neos.
In August 2005, Airblue launched its first international service on the Karachi and Dubai route and flights between Islamabad and Manchester were started in June 2007.
The Managing Director of Airblue concluded by saying that the airline had earned the trust of passengers over the years, and that the company would continue to strive for excellence in its operations and customer service..