airblue

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Not to be confused with Blue Air or Jetblue.
Airblue
Airblue Logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
PA ABQ AIRBLUE
Founded 2003
Commenced operations 18 June 2004
Hubs Jinnah International Airport (Karachi)
Focus cities
Frequent-flyer program Blue Miles
Fleet size 8
Destinations 14
Headquarters Islamabad Stock Exchange Towers
Islamabad, Pakistan
Key people
  • Tariq Chaudhary (CEO)
Website www.airblue.com

Airblue Limited (styled as airblue) is a private Pakistani airline with its head office on the 12th floor of the Islamabad Stock Exchange (ISE) Towers in Islamabad, Pakistan.[1] Airblue operates scheduled flights linking six domestic destinations Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Rahim Yar Khan, Sialkot and Multan with international destinations of UAE airports Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, as well as Muscat, Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.

History[edit]

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.[2] The airline was inaugurated by Zafarullah Khan Jamal (the Prime Minister of Pakistan then).

During the first year the airline became very popular,[3] 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%.[4] This allowed the airline to expand into more cities in Pakistan including Peshawar, Quetta and Nawabshah.[2] On 14 August 2005 (Pakistan's 58th Independence Day) Airblue launched its first international flight from Karachi to Dubai.[2] On June 4, 2007, Airblue launched its inaugural flight to Manchester using the Airbus A321.[5] There were plans to launch flights from Lahore to London Stansted in 2014.[6]

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 the airline 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 A340-300s for existing and new international routes. It was also looking at various types of turboprop aircraft for new domestic routes but this plan was eventually dropped. The A340s joined the fleet in October 2012, enabling the airline 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 had been 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]

Islamabad Stock Exchange Towers, Airblue's headquarters Building

Airblue serves the following destinations as of August 2016:[7]

Country City Airport Status Refs
Oman Muscat Muscat International Airport [7]
Pakistan Faisalabad Faisalabad International Airport Terminated [8]
Pakistan Gwadar Gwadar International Airport Terminated [9]
Pakistan Islamabad Benazir Bhutto International Airport Focus City [7]
Pakistan Karachi Jinnah International Airport Hub [7]
Pakistan Lahore Allama Iqbal International Airport Focus City [7]
Pakistan Multan Multan International Airport [7][10]
Pakistan Nawabshah Nawabshah Airport Terminated [8]
Pakistan Peshawar Bacha Khan International Airport [7]
Pakistan Quetta Quetta International Airport Terminated [8]
Pakistan Rahim Yar Khan Shaikh Zayed International Airport [7]
Pakistan Sialkot Sialkot International Airport [7]
Saudi Arabia Dammam King Fahd International Airport [7]
Saudi Arabia Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport Focus City [7]
Saudi Arabia Medina Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz Airport [7]
Saudi Arabia Riyadh King Khalid International Airport [7]
Turkey Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport Terminated [11]
United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi International Airport Focus City [7]
United Arab Emirates Dubai Dubai International Airport Focus City [7]
United Arab Emirates Sharjah Sharjah International Airport [7]
United Kingdom Birmingham Birmingham Airport Terminated [12]
United Kingdom Manchester Manchester Airport Terminated [13]

Services[edit]

Cabin[edit]

Airblue's A320-200 Interior

All aircraft in the fleet have a 3-by-3 layout in an all economy cabin; and have overhead video screens. Airblue formerly had a business class section, but dropped it due to exogenous economic factors.

eTicketing[edit]

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.

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 to offer credit cards.[14]

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]

Cargo operations[edit]

Airblue has launched e-Cargo service to cater to air freight markets of Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.[15] 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]

Current fleet[edit]

As of August 2016 the Airblue fleet consists of the following aircraft:[16][better source needed]

Airblue Fleet
Aircraft Total Orders Passengers
Economy
Notes
Airbus A320-200 3 0 180
Airbus A321-200 5 0 220
Total 8 0

Formerly operated[edit]

Aircraft Introduced Retired
Airbus A319-100 2008 2014
Airbus A340-300 2012 2014

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On July 28, 2010, Airblue's Airbus A321 registration AP-BJB performing flight ED202 from Karachi to Islamabad (Pakistan) with 146 passengers and 6 crew, was on approach to Islamabad Airport in poor weather conditions (monsoon rain and low visibility) when the airplane impacted the Margalla Hills about 10 nm(18.52 km) north of the airport at a height of about 1000 feet above the city. Radio Contact was lost at approx. 09:45 Local Time. Smoke was seen rising from the densely tree-covered mountains, all occupants of the airplane perished in the crash.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ "Contacting Us." Airblue. Retrieved on 28 July 2010. "Airblue Limited (Corporate Headquarters) 12th Floor, ISE Towers 55-B Jinnah Avenue Islamabad 111-247-258."
  2. ^ a b c Schmitz 2006, p. 57.
  3. ^ "Pakistan’s popular private airline AirBlue to begin Flights to UK in May" Pakistan Times, Printed Jan 28, 2007
  4. ^ Schmitz 2006, p. 58.
  5. ^ AirBlue Begins Pakistan-UK Flights from June 1
  6. ^ Stansted boss sets out vision for two runways
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Airblue schedule
  8. ^ a b c Former domestic route map
  9. ^ Airblue/JS Air Gwadar service
  10. ^ Airblue ATR72 service advertisement
  11. ^ Airbue launch Istanbul
  12. ^ Air Blue suspends Birmingham to Pakistan flights
  13. ^ Air Blue Manchester suspension news
  14. ^ Promotional Campaign Launched
  15. ^ Airblue e-Cargo
  16. ^ "AirBlue Fleet Details and History". Planespotters.net. 26 August 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2016. 
  17. ^ "Crash: AirBlue A321 near Islamabad on Jul 28th 2010, impacted mountaineous terrain near the airport". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 

Bibliography[edit]

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

External links[edit]

Media related to Airblue at Wikimedia Commons