By Steve Hartridge, published 2/09/20
Virgin Atlantic is to launch flights to Pakistan in December. The three new services will link Heathrow to Lahore and Islamabad, and Manchester to Islamabad.
Seat sales begin this month (September), subject to regulatory approvals.
Pakistan offers the airline an “exciting opportunity” as it has one of the largest foreign-born populations in both the UK and the U.S – and the seventh largest diaspora in the world – said Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s Chief Commercial Officer.
“With travel restrictions remaining in place for many destinations around the world, we’re continually evaluating our network, looking at customer demand and where there are opportunities to launch new services,” he said.
“Both Lahore and Islamabad are popular year-round destinations and we look forward to welcoming travellers onboard as demand for leisure and business travel gradually increases to the region.
“We also see a significant opportunity to increase competition in the U.S.-Pakistan market. Using the strength of our trans-Atlantic services we’re able to offer customers the shortest journey to and from destinations in the U.S.,” added Jarvinen.
Virgin Atlantic restarted passenger flying on July 20 after a three-month hiatus due to the pandemic and is currently operating flights to New York JFK, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Barbados and Miami.
It is set to resume flying from Heathrow to Delhi, Tel Aviv, Atlanta, Mumbai and Lagos throughout September and has said it will add more routes over the coming weeks with a “further, gradual recovery through 2021 in line with customer demand”.
New health and safety measures adopted by the airline include enhanced cleaning practices at check-in, boarding gates and onboard, including the use of electrostatic spraying of high-grade disinfectant in all cabins and lavatories before every flight. All customers are provided with a personal Health Pack, which contains three medical grade face masks to be worn on-board, surface wipes and hand gel.
Last month Virgin Atlantic won backing from its creditors for a a £1.2 billion restructure deal to safeguard its future for the foreseeable future and save around 6,500 jobs.