Virgin Atlantic are launching a regular service to Islamabad in Pakistan in December 2020 from Manchester Airport.
Tickets will go on sale in September 2020, subject to regulatory approvals, boasting Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class, Premium and Economy Light, Classic and Delight service.
Pakistan has the seventh largest diaspora in the world and the new services aim to respond to the large, fast-growing demand to visit friends and relatives (VFR) from customers in the UK and the US, as well as capturing demand for business travel to the region as global economies gradually recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As well as flying customers, Virgin Atlantic will offer a cargo service presenting new opportunities for companies looking to export and import goods such as fresh produce and textiles between prime markets in the UK and US, and Pakistan.
Julian Carr, aviation director at Manchester Airport, said: “It’s great to see Virgin Atlantic commence services to Pakistan from Manchester Airport.
“It marks the airline’s commitment to the region, with it being its first eastbound service from Manchester and the North.
“We are sure the route will be incredibly popular with the thousands of passengers across our vast catchment that visit Pakistan either for business, or to visit friends and relatives.”
Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “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.”
“Pakistan is an extremely exciting opportunity for us – it boasts one of the largest foreign-born populations in both the UK and the US and, as people start to travel to visit loved ones, we’re anticipating the demand to visit friends and relatives will increase post-COVID-19.
“Islamabad is a popular year-round destination and we look forward to welcoming travellers on board as demand for leisure and business travel gradually increases to the region.”
Alison Blackburne, acting head of the British High Commission in Pakistan, said: “Virgin Atlantic starting flights to Pakistan is great news for the hundreds of thousands of people who regularly travel between our two nations, as well as a boost to UK-Pakistan trade links.
“We look forward to welcoming Virgin Atlantic to this fantastic country.”
To ensure the health and safety of customers and crew, Virgin Atlantic is implementing additional measures to offer peace of mind in the airport and when taking to the skies.
These include enhanced and thorough cleaning practices at check-in, boarding gates and on board, including the use of electrostatic spraying of high-grade disinfectant in all cabins and lavatories before every flight, ensuring no surface is left untouched.
Safe distancing will also be adhered to wherever possible, and mask wearing will be required throughout the journey.
All customers will be provided with a personal health pack for their health and safety, which will contain three medical grade face masks to be worn on board, surface wipes and hand gel.