|Commenced operations||18 June 2004|
|Hubs||Jinnah International Airport|
|Focus cities||Allama Iqbal International Airport
Benazir Bhutto International Airport
|Frequent-flyer program||Blue Miles|
|Airport lounge||Blue Lounge International|
|Headquarters||Islamabad Stock Exchange Towers
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. 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 Jamal (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 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 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 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.
Airblue serves the following destinations as of December 2015:
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All aircraft 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.
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.
Airblue has launched e-Cargo service to cater to air freight markets of Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. 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 2016 the Airblue fleet consists of the following aircraft:
- Previously operated
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 Archived October 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- Airblue ATR72 service advertisement
- Airbue launch Istanbul
- Air Blue suspends Birmingham to Pakistan flights
- Air Blue Manchester suspension news
- Promotional Campaign Launched
- Airblue e-Cargo
- "AirBlue Fleet Details and History". www.planespotters.net. 11 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
- Air Blue expands fleet
- Airbus orders and deliveries May 2011
- Airblue begins ATR72 service
- "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.
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