Its a company which calls itself a low-cost carrier (LCC)
and yet offers piping hot meals on at all its flights, has dual
class seating arrangements, and surprise! surprise! made operational
profit in the first two months of its operations.
it doesnt stop there. The company has zero debt on its books
and plans to meet the requirements of initial fleet expansion funds
through internal accruals.
Shahid K Abassi, chief operating officer of Airblue, Pakistans
low-cost airline. In three years, it has carved a third of the marketshare
in the sectors it operates domestically. In absolute terms, Pakistan
International Airlines (PIA), the legacy carrier, today ferries
more passengers than it had done three years back when Airblue took
to skies, indicating that the latter has expanded the market.
has a fleet of six aircraft and it connects seven cities in Pakistan.
PIA has 32 planes and it largely concentrates on the long-haul sector.
of being an LCC, we provide food, since the legacy carriers have
been doing it for 50 years and people associate air travel with
hot meals. We realised that you need a happy customer, not just
a price-conscious one, Abassi, who has earlier worked with
PIA, said. Pakistans domestic civil aviation market is under
most LCCs, Airblue puts its entire ticket inventory on the Net and
direct internet booking accounts for 15% of its sales.
is not surprising is that it begins selling tickets at a 40% discount
to full service carriers (FSCs), but what is surprising is that
the closer to the date of your travel, you may end up paying up
to 30% premium over the price charged by FSCs .
we begin selling our tickets about 40% cheaper to what a legacy
carrier charges, due to dynamic fare structure, the final fare may
be 30% more than what a full service carrier charges, Abassi
said. This is only for the economy class; the carrier doesnt
discount business class seats.
Pakistan, a carrier is allowed to fly overseas after a year of domestic
operations, against Indias five. Airblue, which currently
operates flights to Dubai, has plans to fly to the UK. Abassi says
it plans to fund its future aircraft acquisition- up to six- through
internal cash generation.
company has signed for two A320s and may convert four options and
buy two more A350s. Due to lack of aircraft, is it unable to fly
to the UK, although it has permissions for eight flights a week.
Hence, it is currently scouting to lease two aircraft to begin services
by next summer. Abbasi, an ex-parliamentarian, says he has applied
to fly to India. I can connect Mumbai-Karachi today if I get
the permission. I have planes sitting idle at night in Karachi.
If the visa issue gets sorted out, there is scope for 20 flights
a day between India and Pakistan, he says.
him to be eligible to fly to India, his airline has to get designated,
a status which only PIA enjoys currently. Under the civil aviation
agreement between the two countries, there are slots for 12 flights
a week between India and Pakistan, which is utilised entirely by