Virgin Atlantic announces new Pakistan routes

Virgin Atlantic will launch new routes serving Pakistan in December (Steve Parsons/PA)
Virgin Atlantic will launch new routes serving Pakistan in December (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
14:24pm, Thu 27 Aug 2020
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Virgin Atlantic will launch new routes serving Pakistan in December.

The airline will operate flights to Islamabad from Heathrow and Manchester, and Lahore from Heathrow only.

The carrier will compete with British Airways on the Heathrow-Islamabad route.

Virgin Atlantic chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen said: “With travel restrictions remaining in place for many destinations around the world, we’re continually evaluating our network, looking at customer demand and where there are opportunities to launch new services.

“Pakistan is an extremely exciting opportunity for us – it boasts one of the largest foreign-born populations in both the UK and the US and, as people start to travel to visit loved ones, we’re anticipating the demand to visit friends and relatives will increase post-Covid-19.

“Both Lahore and Islamabad are popular year-round destinations and we look forward to welcoming travellers onboard as demand for leisure and business travel gradually increases to the region.

“We also see a significant opportunity to increase competition in the US-Pakistan market. Using the strength of our transatlantic services, we’re able to offer customers the shortest journey to and from destinations in the US such as New York, Los Angeles and Washington by connecting through London Heathrow.”

Alison Blackburne, acting head of the British High Commission in Pakistan, said: “Virgin Atlantic planning to start flights to Pakistan is great news for the hundreds of thousands of people who regularly travel between our two nations, as well as a boost to UK-Pakistan trade links.

“We look forward to welcoming Virgin Atlantic to this fantastic country.”

The new routes are subject to regulatory approval.

Virgin Atlantic said it reached “a significant milestone in safeguarding its future” on Tuesday when creditors voted to approve a £1.2 billion bailout.

The vote was a key part of a court-sanctioned process being used by the airline to implement the deal.

It warned earlier this month it could run out of money by the end of September if the rescue package was rejected.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was banned from operating flights to the UK on July 1 by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

This came after the country’s aviation minister revealed that almost a third of Pakistani pilots cheated on their exams.

Last week the CAA approved a request from PIA to resume flights from Islamabad to Birmingham and Manchester using aircraft chartered from European Union carrier Hi Fly Limited.

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