|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|
|Fleet size||6 (+2 on order)|
|Headquarters||Islamabad Stock Exchange Towers
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. 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.
The airline was established in 2003 and started operations on 18 June 2004 with three leased Airbus A320-200 aircraft serving Karachi–Lahore and Karachi–Islamabad with three daily flights in each direction. The airline was inaugurated by Zafarullah Khan Jamali (the Prime Minister of Pakistan then).
During the first year the airline became very popular, 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%. This allowed the airline to expand into more cities in Pakistan including Peshawar, Quetta and Nawabshah. On 14 August 2005 (Pakistan's 58th Independence Day) Airblue launched its first international flight from Karachi to Dubai. On June 4, 2007, Airblue launched its inaugural flight to Manchester using the Airbus A321. There were plans to launch flights from Lahore to London Stansted in 2014.
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.
Airblue serves the following destinations as of April 2014:
- Islamabad - Benazir Bhutto International Airport Focus City
- Karachi - Jinnah International Airport Hub
- Lahore - Allama Iqbal International Airport Focus City
- Peshawar - Bacha Khan International Airport
- Rahim Yar Khan - Shaikh Zayed International Airport
- Saudi Arabia
- Jeddah - King Abdulaziz International Airport
- Riyadh - King Khalid International Airport (begins 22 September 2014)
- United Arab Emirates
- Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi International Airport
- Dubai - Dubai International Airport
- Sharjah - Sharjah International Airport
Airblue previously served Quetta, Nawabshah and Faisalabad, whereas a chater service was operated to Gwadar through JS Air. International destinations included Istanbul in Turkey as well as Birmingham and Manchester in United Kingdom.
Airblue intends to expand operations with additional aircraft to destinations in Europe, China, and the Middle East 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.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (March 2013)|
Airblue currently operates all a320. All aircraft are in a 3 by 3 all economy layout and have overhead video screens. Airblue formerly had a business class section but dropped it[when?] due to exogenous economic factors.
Frequent flyer program
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.
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.
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.
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.
Airblue have launched e-Cargo service to cater to air freight markets of Pakistan, UAE and UK. 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.
As of April 2014 Airblue Fleet consists of following aircraft's with an average age of 8.9 years:
|Airbus A320-200||5||0||four on lease, one each ILFC and Windrose Airlines, two AWAS|
|Airbus A321-200||1||2||on lease from Windrose Airlines till May 2015, orders due November 2014 |
- Previously operated
As well as additional A320s and A321s, all on lease.
Incidents and accidents
- Airblue Flight 202: On July 28, 2010, an Airblue Airbus A321 crashed in the Margalla Hills near the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad while on a flight from Jinnah International Airport in Karachi due to pilot error.
- Airblue launches Blue Lounge International
- "Contacting Us." Airblue. Retrieved on 28 July 2010. "Airblue Limited (Corporate Headquarters) 12th Floor, ISE Towers 55-B Jinnah Avenue Islamabad 111-247-258."
- Schmitz 2006, p. 57.
- "Pakistan’s popular private airline AirBlue to begin Flights to UK in May" Pakistan Times, Printed Jan 28, 2007
- Schmitz 2006, p. 58.
- AirBlue Begins Pakistan-UK Flights from June 1
- Stansted boss sets out vision for two runways
- Airblue schedule
- Former domestic route map
- Airblue/JS Air Gwadar service
- Airbue launch Istanbul
- Air Blue suspends Birmingham to Pakistan flights
- Air Blue Manchester suspension news
- to Double its fleet
- Economy class section of Airblue A320s
- Promotional Campaign Launched
- Airblue e-Cargo
- Airbus orders and deliveries May 2011
- Air Blue expands fleet
- "ASN Aircraft accident Airbus A321-231 AP-BJB Islamabad-Benazir Bhutto International Airport (ISB)". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- Schmitz, Sebastian. "airblue: A New High Flyer from Pakistan". Air International, January 2006, Vol 70 No 1. pp. 56–58. ISSN 0306-5634.
- AirBlue to start flights to UK
- Airblue Introduce Self Check-in System
- Airblue celebrates one millionth passenger
- Airblue's Fleet Expansion
- ILFC News Release
- Airblue/Airbus Deal Press Release
- Airblue Landing in Sharja
- Airblue Flights to Lahore
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Airblue.|