Virgin Atlantic is continuing to strengthen its network, with planned routes from the United Kingdom to Pakistan.
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-300 arriving at London Heathrow – Image, Economy Class and Beyond
The airline plans to start these services in December 2020. Three routes are planned to be launched, which are:
- London Heathrow – Lahore
- London Heathrow – Islamabad
- Manchester – Islamabad
Tickets will go on sale in September 2020, subject to applicable regulatory approvals.
Virgin Atlantic offers three classes onboard their aircraft Upper Class, Premium and Economy (in all three variations o Light, Classic and Delight).
The services are being planned to provide seamless connections via London Heathrow onto North America and back to Pakistan. Connections from European destinations will also be available through codeshare and interline partners.
As well as the passenger coverage, the belly space will be offered as cargo space, allowing for companies looking to export and import goods such as fresh produce and textiles between prime markets in the UK and US, and Pakistan.
Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic commented:
“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 trans-Atlantic 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”.
Offering new connections, as well as competition.
For Virgin Atlantic, they have concluded there is a major opportunity here for the taking – providing tourism, family and business traffic (as well as the belly space) and are planning a rather aggressive rollout to provide competition.
So who are Virgin Atlantic’s competition on these routes to Pakistan? We have British Airways (who fly between London and Islamabad), and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) offers flights from London (Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi), Birmingham (Islamabad) and Manchester (Lahore and Islamabad).
It’s going to be an interesting market, as PIA is banned from Europe due to the Pilot Licencing scandal that hit the airline and BA competing on two routes.
Ultimately – it will come down to frequencies and connection possibilities.
This could be one to watch as the routes edges towards launch.
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