National, 15 July 2008
Airblue, Pakistans largest private carrier, will start flying
twice a day from Sharjah to Pakistan in the first phase of the airlines
plan to expand services in the Gulf and South Asia.
will operate its two newly acquired Airbus A319s to two destinations
in northern Pakistan, beginning on Aug 14.
are to fly to two of the four northern destinations in Pakistan,
including Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad or Peshawar, said
Syed Nasir Ali, the managing director of Airblue. Two destinations
will be finalised once all the approvals have been secured from
Sharjah aviation authorities.
The 14 flights
a week from Sharjah will take the total number of Airblue flights
from the UAE to 35 a week. The airline currently operates 21 flights
a week from Dubai to four destinations in Pakistan, and is also
looking to expand its service from Dubai.
Mr Ali said
last month that the airline had held negotiations with Abu Dhabi
authorities and planned to launch flights from the emirate to Peshawar
and Islamabad soon.
He added that
Airblue would introduce flights to Muscat, in Oman, and to Kuwait
in October as the second phase of the airlines expansion got
under way. Airblue has already secured landing rights in Muscat
and is in the final stages of negotiating for rights in Kuwait.
also looking at the possibility of starting Jeddah operations to
get a share of Hajj and Ummrah traffic, Mr Ali said.
also set its sights on the Indian market and has secured approval
from the Indian and Pakistani authorities to start flights between
Lahore and Delhi this winter.
to announce an initial public offering of shares next year to fund
14 new A320 Airbus aircraft worth about US$800 million (Dh2.94bn).
Mr Ali, however, would not say how much the airline intended to
raise, or what stake of the company it would offer. We are
at the planning stage right now and a decision will soon be made,
he said, adding that the airline would complete three years of operations
in August, the prerequisite for a public offering in Pakistan.
two A319 aircraft that Airblue recently added, the carrier currently
has a fleet of eight Airbus aeroplanes . From the middle of next
year, Airblue is scheduled to receive a new Airbus aircraft every
have about 18 aircraft once we get the full delivery. We will phase
out the older aircraft as well, Mr Ali said.
He added that
Airblue was also looking at the option of acquiring a wide-bodied
aircraft, possibly an A330, to service its long-haul route to Europe.
addition of these new aircraft to the fleet, Airblue will expand
operations to more European destinations, including London, Scandinavia
and also more destinations in the Middle East, Far East and Saudi
Arabia, he said.