airblue

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Not to be confused with Blue Air.
Airblue
Airblue Logo.svg
IATA
PA
ICAO
ABQ
Callsign
AIRBLUE
Founded 2003
Commenced operations 18 June 2004
Hubs Jinnah International Airport
Focus cities Allama Iqbal International Airport
Benazir Bhutto International Airport
Dubai International Airport
Frequent-flyer program Blue Miles
Airport lounge Blue Lounge International[1]
Fleet size 7 (+1 on order)
Destinations 11
Headquarters Islamabad Stock Exchange Towers
Islamabad, Pakistan
Key people
Website www.airblue.com
Islamabad Stock Exchange Towers, the Airblue headquarters in Islamabad

Airblue Limited (styled as airblue) is a private airline with its head office on the 12th floor of the Islamabad Stock Exchange (ISE) Towers in Islamabad, Pakistan.[2] Airblue operates scheduled flights operating 30 daily services linking four domestic destinations Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar with international services to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Muscat. Its main base is Jinnah International Airport, Karachi.

History[edit]

The airline was established in 2003 and started operations on 18 June 2004 with three leased Airbus A320-200 aircraft serving KarachiLahore and KarachiIslamabad with three daily flights in each direction.[3] The airline was inaugurated by Zafarullah Khan Jamali (the Prime Minister of Pakistan then).

During the first year the airline became very popular,[4] which allowed the airline to compete directly with the flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines and the two other private carriers, flying more than 400,000 passengers in the first year with a load factor of over 90%.[5] This allowed the airline to expand into more cities in Pakistan including Peshawar, Quetta and Nawabshah.[3] On 14 August 2005 (Pakistan's 58th Independence Day) Airblue launched its first international flight from Karachi to Dubai.[3] On June 4, 2007, Airblue launched its inaugural flight to Manchester using the Airbus A321.[6] There were plans to launch flights from Lahore to London Stansted in 2014.[7]

Airblue changed its IATA code from ED to PA in June 2012, the new code originally belonged to the defunct and once iconic carrier Pan American World Airways.

In 2011 they launched service to Istanbul using Sabiha Gokcen Airport, with full traffic rights to from Pakistan and Manchester.

In June 2012, Airblue finalised an agreement to acquire one Airbus A320 and two leased Airbus A340-300s for current and new international routes. It was also looking at various types of turboprop aircraft for new domestic routes, this plan was eventually dropped. The A340s joined the fleet in October 2012, enabling it to strengthen its Manchester route with nonstop flights as well as launch a second UK destination Birmingham in September 2013, and connect both stations with Lahore. The A340s later also flew to the Middle East, technical issues related to the aircraft eventually led to them being phased out by January 2014, they were leased for a five year term.

UK operations also ended with Birmingham being dropped after just three months service and Manchester ending in January 2014.

Destinations[edit]

Airblue serves the following destinations as of April 2014:[8]

Oman
Pakistan
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates


Airblue previously served Quetta, Nawabshah and Faisalabad,[9] whereas a chater service was operated to Gwadar through JS Air.[10] International destinations included Istanbul in Turkey[11] as well as Birmingham and Manchester in United Kingdom.[12][13]

Network expansion[edit]

Airblue intends to expand operations with additional aircraft to destinations in Europe, China, and the Middle East[14] aiming to become a major player in Europe. They also plan to start a Mumbai-Karachi air route. However, this would require the airline to get designated, a status which only PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) enjoys currently. Under the bilateral civil aviation agreement, there are slots for 12 flights a week between India and Pakistan, currently entirely used by PIA.[15]

Services[edit]

Cabin[edit]

Airblue currently operates all a320. All aircraft are in a 3 by 3 all economy layout[16] and have overhead video screens.[citation needed] Airblue formerly had a business class section but dropped it[when?] due to exogenous economic factors.[citation needed]

eTicketing[edit]

Karachi is the hub for most of Airblue's domestic operations

Airblue was the first airline in Pakistan to introduce e-ticketing, wireless check-in and self check-in kiosk facilities. The airline also uses Sabre, a ticket distribution system.[citation needed]

Frequent flyer program[edit]

The Airblue frequent flyer program is called Blue Miles. Passengers are able to initially start on the base level where sign up is free. Once passengers earn enough miles, there are upgrades to the Blue Card followed by the Platinum Card. In May 2009, the airline formed an alliance with Faysal Bank Limited to offer credit cards.[17]

Lounges[edit]

Airblue inaugurated its own premium lounge at Jinnah International Airport, Karachi in November 2008. It has since been closed[when?]. Named the Blue Lounge International, it was designed for business class passengers, credit card holders and privileged customers. The lounge offered Internet facilities, cable television, newspapers and magazines, massage chairs and a snack bar. It was located in the international terminal of the airport.[citation needed]

Cost-cutting measures[edit]

To deal with the fuel price hike worldwide, Airblue converted their fleet to all economy class[when?], and all new aircraft will also be in a single-class configuration. They also ended full meal services and replaced it with snacks on domestic flights[when?]. In 2006, Airblue did away with chinaware crockery service for meals on most routes to cut costs and weight, replacing it with plastic as per normal industry practice.[citation needed]

Ground services[edit]

Passengers may check-in 2 hours prior to flight departure at latest or as early as 48 hours prior to flight departure. This may be done in person or at self-service kiosks. Currently self-service kiosks are available at Jinnah International Airport and Allama Iqbal International Airport. Dnata handles ground and passenger handling for the airline at all of the airports the airline operates from. Gate Gourmet provides food and beverage services to the airline.[citation needed]

Cargo operations[edit]

Airblue have launched e-Cargo service to cater to air freight markets of Pakistan, UAE and UK.[18] According to a press release, e-Cargo will broaden the base of cargo and permit certified agents to book freight directly online opening the inventory through Web.

Fleet[edit]

As of April 2014 Airblue Fleet consists of following aircraft's with an average age of 8.9 years:[19]

Airblue Fleet
Aircraft In Fleet Orders Notes
Airbus A320-200 4 0 3 on lease, one ILFC two AWAS
Airbus A321-200 3 0 On lease from Windrose Airlines till May 2015 [20]
ATR 72-600 0 1 Lease Term Accepted From Quick Duck Airlines, Delivery in December 2014
Total 7 1

Airblue own just one aircraft, an A320[21] reg. AP-EDA that was part of a self placed order for fourteen in 2007, the remaining order was cancelled.[22]

Previously operated

Incidents and accidents[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Schmitz, Sebastian. "airblue: A New High Flyer from Pakistan". Air International, January 2006, Vol 70 No 1. pp. 56–58. ISSN 0306-5634.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]