Virgin Atlantic is all set to begin direct commercial airline flights operations to Pakistan from the UK. The airline, owned by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, will offer eight flights a week from London Heathrow to Allama Iqbal International Airport and Islamabad International Airport using modern Airbus A332 aircraft.
The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) granted permission to Virgin Atlantic to begin flight operations inside the country after the company made a formal request on 2nd December. The airline initially planned to operate 3 flight routes between the two countries, including London-Lahore, London-Islamabad, and Manchester-Islamabad, however only the former two were accepted by the PCAA.
Virgin Atlantic had announced its intentions to begin direct flights to Pakistan earlier this year in August and had received cabinet approval in September. In a blog post, the airline highlighted the UNESCO world heritage sites of Lahore and the beauty of Islamabad’s mountains while announcing its Upper Class, Premium, Classic and Delight services to the country.
“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,” said Juha Jarvinene, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic according to the post. “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.”
The airline will operate a cargo flights to Lahore on December 7 and 9 to bring over staff and equipment. Official passenger flights will commence on the 13th of December with flight VS365 scheduled to take off from London and land in Lahore on December 14. After this, the regular schedule of 8 flights a week, as approved by the PCAA, will begin operation.
Besides Virgin Atlantic, British airways has also announced that it plans to begin direct flight operations between London Heathrow and Allama Iqbal International Airport in the near future.