AirBlue aims to focus passenger comfort at prices that offer value for money and that explains its decision to have leather-upholstered seats in the Business class and offering in-flight entertainment not offered by any other airline, including the PIA, on the domestic sector. The airline has also made arrangements with quality caterer outside to serve what it calls "exquisite cuisine" to the travelers. Initially, it will operate 3 flights on the Karachi-Lahore sector and similar number of flights on the Karachi-Islamabad sector daily.
AirBlue will introduce the concept of total e-ticketing for the convenience of passenger which would also help it to eradicate the back-dating system associated with manual ticketing that costs airlines, including its competitors, millions in losses every year. The absence of manual ticketing and the introduction of computerised check-ins by hand-held computers would help AirBlue offer quality-conscious travelers value for their money by offering quality product and consistent scheduling.
AirBlue which has a paid-up capital of Rs 500 million is a public limited company and plans to offer Initial Public Offering at the Karachi Stock Exchange in May.
In addition to 3 daily flights each on the Karachi-Lahore and Karachi-Islamabad sectors AirBlue also has plans to operate one circular Karachi-Sukkur-Multan-Karachi flight daily. The total frequency of which adds up to 15 flights a day. The AirBlue is aiming to provide world-class service on new generation aircraft which are comparatively newer than those used by the other private airlines, AirBlue's aircraft are just about 5-year-old, without compromising on quality, service or fare.
It aims to focus on quality and service primarily at fares competitive with the national flag carrier PIA. It also has plans to offer heavy discounts for the senior citizens and students as well as operating night coach at discounted fares. The AirBlue, thus, is looking forward to soon become the fourth airline serving the domestic sector in a market, the bulk of which is served by the PIA and a portion is enjoyed by Shaheen Air International and Aero Asia which promotes itself as the country's first lowfare airline.
As mentioned earlier, Safe Air has once again be granted the license to commence commercial operations on the domestic sector. The airline commenced operations in 1999 which lasted for two years due primarily to problems with the Civil Aviation Authority regarding unpaid dues. The CAA has reissued the license to the Safe Air which is reportedly back with an investment of 12 million euro by a foreign group and is expected to start commercial operations soon.
About a couple of years ago, Safe Air appeared on the horizon of airlines in the private sector in Pakistan, it had some dispute with CAA of Pakistan, which appeared to have been resolved but the airline disappeared from the scene.
The opening of air transport industry for the second time around would help meet increasing demand for both the passenger and cargo traffic. It would also instill competition to encourage air travel by offering choices to people in more ways than one particularly in a market where the closure of many private airlines in the near past resulted in pushing the airfares.
At present, the PIA dominates not only the major portion of the domestic passenger traffic but also the small volume of cargo traffic on the domestic sector. It heavily dominates the passenger traffic on the international sector. The airline embarked on an ambitious $ 2 billion fleet replacement plan last year to induct 10 aircraft in the fleet by 2011 and the thawing of ice between Pakistan and India resulting in re-opening of Indian air corridors would help it not only regain lost business but also to operate flights on the Far East sectors closed in the aftermath of the Indian ban.
PIA announced to resume flights to India with an expanded schedule last December with 12 direct weekly flights to New Delhi and Mumbai. The airline, which has since resumed its operations to India, can now fly with bigger aircraft type as its expanded operation is no more restricted type of equipment, additional capacity or size of aircraft. The expanded operation allows PIA to fly to Colombo, Dhaka and Kathmandu directly and resumption of operations to Bangkok and Hong Kong.
PIA also signed an accord for the purchase of 8 E777 aircraft worth $ 1.2 billion from the Boeing company at the total cost of $ 1.2 billion December last year. The signing-in ceremony will be held at the US Export-Import Bank in Washington. PIA chairman Ahmed Saeed will represent the national airlines at the ceremony. Last year, the Ex-Imp Bank agreed to provide $125 million to Pakistan to help it buy passenger aircraft from the Boeing. The deal was underwritten by US Export Import Bank, the first such deal underwritten by the Bank between Pakistan and a private US firm.
The decision to replace the fleet was necessary because the average age of PIA's current fleet was 23 years. The airlines has 40 aircraft and over 22,000 employees. PIA has already received its first Boeing 777 aircraft and has since resumed operations on the sectors affected by the Indian ban. It resumed twice weekly service to Kathmandu in Nepal from January 4 this year 2004. It also introduced weekly Quetta-Sharajah-Quetta flight around the same time and while PIA already operates a weekly flight to Dubai from Quetta, it is operating a third international flight from Quetta to Mashad despite a small load.
PIA also announced a 50 percent reduction in fare on the Quetta-Karachi sector for people travelling to Almaty, Central Asia, and introduced Lahore-Sharjah flight from January 1 this year.
The closure of air corridors by India and the termination of flights to a number of sectors in the Far East and Kathmandu deprived the PIA of substantial losses in revenue which runs into as much as $ 50 million. The opening of the Indian air corridors and the resumption of operations on the Far Eastern sectors plus the introduction of international flights mentioned above would help the airline to make up the losses through expanded operations to India.
PIA plans to start flights to Glasgow, Scotland from April this year and to Houston two months later. It has already resumed its flights to Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Almaty, Kazahkstan in Central Asia once a week from Karachi via Islamabad from December.
On the 11th of this month Pakistan and China signed a historic agreement to expand air services between the two friendly neighbours. The agreement would enable the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) and the state-owned national flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines to increase operations on Karachi-Islamabad, Beijing, Urumqi and Shanghai sectors with immediate effect.
The agreement would help PIA to increase the maximum number of passenger and cargo flights to China from 4 per week to 14 per week. PIA would also be able to operate flights to Shanghai in addition to Beijing and Urumqi. The Chinese Airline would be able to fly to Lahore in addition to Islamabad and Karachi. The two airlines would also be allowed to book passengers on each other's flights on a reciprocal basis. The two countries have also agreed to start a bilteral code-sharing operation — the first time ever the PIA has entered into such a sharing system with any foreign airline. The agreement would also allow PIA to operate flights of its Los Angeles sector through China in addition to the Japan route already available.
PIA has also decided to reschedule four Boeing flights to Lahore weekly on the demand by the business community of Multan and the surrounding areas. – less – More from ZoomInfo »