b By our correspondent
airline Airblue, on Thursday, announced that it had added two new
aircraft to consolidate its international and domestic network.
newsmen here at a luncheon meeting, Managing Director Syed Nasir
Ali said the two Airbus 319 aircraft have been dry leased from an
American airline which went bankrupt following an unprecedented
hike in fuel prices. This new addition has increased the fleet strength
of Airblue to eight aircraft. Year 2007 was the year of consolidation
for us. We were trying to face challenges of the rising fuel cost,
he said, recalling many airlines have succumbed to the challenge.
We definitely want to survive.
He said domestic
air traffic has dropped by 12 percent as compared to last year because
of higher fares. Airblue has taken a number of initiatives
to control cost. All our aircraft are configured economy class.
We have replaced meals with sandwiches.
Ali said the
new aircraft will primarily be used on upcoming routes between Sharjah
and cities in northern Pakistan. Service between Lahore and Islamabad
will also start from next month, he added.
Asked how his
airline will compete with low-cost Air Arabia that operates on the
same routes between Sharjah and Pakistan, he said Pakistani passengers
mostly preferred their own airlines.
He said the
airline initally intended to establish its service from Dubai but
authorities of the Emirates did not grant them permission. Airblue
has also been seeking permission of Saudi authorities to start flights
to Riyadh, he said, adding, Saudi rulers are strict when it
comes to private airlines.