Sep 04 2008
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Airblue to fly Muscat-Lahore from Sept. 15
Announcing this at a meeting with travel agents and the media, Sarosh Bhatti, general manager-marketing, Airblue, said: "We are certain that the Muscat-Lahore route will serve a growing number of passengers between our two countries. We are hopeful that the demand will enable us to increase our frequencies to and from Muscat in a short period of a time."
Airblue has acquired two new Airbus A319 aircraft. With the addition of these two new aircraft, the Airblue fleet now consists of three Airbus A321, three Airbus A320 and two Airbus A319.
Informing the media that Airblue is the first private airline to have placed an order for 14 brand new A320 aircraft, Bhatti said: "The airline prides itself in having the youngest fleet of aircraft in Pakistan. The scheduled delivery of these aircraft starts from June 2009 at nearly three to six months interval."
Throwing light on the expansion plans, Bhatti said that in a bid to further enhance its connectivity and in line with the passenger demand, the airline also plans to introduce new destinations with flights to Saudi Arabia, India and Kuwait from Pakistani cities.
"With the addition of these new aircraft to its fleet, Airblue will expand operations to London, Birmingham, Scandinavia, the Far East and Saudi Arabia.
"Plans are on to launch flights to Copenhagen and Malaysia as well. Within six months you will see a lot of expansions happening in Airblue," she added.
Giving details about the pricing of tickets, Bhatti said: "We follow a revenue management system by which the more in advance you book the more discount you will get. We have discounts up to 90 per cent.
"For example, if you buy tickets three to four weeks in advance you will get 90 per cent discount. Because of the revenue management system, many times we will be the cheapest in the market but if you buy at the last minute we will be the costliest too."
Stating that tickets can be booked online, Bhatti said: "We sell tickets through website and travellers can buy paying through credit cards. In Pakistan, we are the most automated airline."
Talking about anticipated projections for the Muscat sector, Bhatti said: "Our seating capacity is 145 per aircraft with all Economy seats. For the first flight on September 15, 50 per cent of the seats have already been sold. Muscat is a new market but it is a promising route."
Giving a brief about Airblue's origin, Bhatti said: "We started operation in 2004 with two domestic flights -- Karachi-Lahore and Karachi-Islamabad. At that time we had three aircraft.
The objective behind starting Airblue was that there was a huge need for a good quality airline in the Pakistani airline market.
To fill that gap we came out with this high-quality airline whose market position we wanted to be right at the top.
We started with brand new Air320 aircraft, which are the hottest aircraft right now in the industry.
In August 2005, we started flights to Dubai and right now we have three daily flights between Pakistan and Dubai. We also have daily flights between Islamabad and Manchester. We started flights to Abu Dhabi last month. After the national airline, we are the first airline to operate long-haul flights.
"Our market share for Islamabad to Manchester is 40 per cent and for Dubai it is 45 per cent. It tells you that we are a dominant player in the Pakistan airline industry."
Talking about launching flights to India from Pakistan, Bhatti said: "We have been designated to fly to India like how Jetlite and Kingfisher have been designated to fly to Pakistan."
"Maybe those going to India can work out a good deal by taking flights to Karachi and from Karachi to India," he added.
Speaking at the launch, Sheikh Abdul Hameed, commercial counsellor at the Pakistan Embassy, said: "We are delighted at the announcement of Airblue flights to Lahore. We hope that they will soon announce flights to other destinations like Islamabad and Karachi."
Tahir Malik, president of Pakistan Social Club, said: "I am very happy to know that Airblue is going to start its services from September 15.
"We were having a lot of problems with just one airline operating between Pakistan and Muscat. We hope that with the new airline coming in we can overcome all the problems we are facing. I wish Airblue all success."
Sadaf Ali, manager, systems, Airblue, Mohammed Asim, manager, Airblue (Oman) were also present.
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