|Hubs||Jinnah International Airport|
|Focus cities||Allama Iqbal International Airport
Benazir Bhutto International Airport
Dubai International Airport
|Frequent flyer program||Blue Miles|
|Member lounge||Blue Lounge International |
|Fleet size||7 (+14 orders)|
|Key people||Shahid Khaqan Abbasi|
Airblue, styled as airblue, is a private airline based in Karachi, Pakistan. It is Pakistan's second largest airline with over 30% share of the domestic market.. Airblue operates scheduled flights operating 30 daily services linking four domestic destinations and international services to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Muscat and Manchester. It carried 1.4 million passengers on domestic flights in the 2006-07 fiscal year. Its main base is Jinnah International Airport, Karachi.
The airline was established in 2003 and started operations on 18 June 2004 with 3 leased Airbus A320-200 aircraft serving Karachi-Lahore and Karachi-Islamabad with three daily flights in each direction. The airline was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan,
During the first year the airline became very popular, which allowed the airline to compete directly with the flag carrier PIA and the two other private carriers. This allowed the airline to expand into more cities in Pakistan including Peshawar, Quetta and Nawabshah. On 14 August 2005 (Pakistan's 58th Independence Day) Airblue launched its first international flight from Karachi to Dubai. On June 4, 2007, Airblue launched its inaugural flight to Manchester using the Airbus A321.
Expansion plans include Bahrain, Bangkok, Birmingham, Colombo, Copenhagen, Delhi, Dhaka, Jeddah, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, London-Gatwick, Mumbai and Singapore. At home they plan to launch Multan and Sialkot.
Airblue currently operates a mixtue of Airbus A321, A320 and A319s. All aircraft are in a 3 by 3 all economy layout. There are several overhead screens located after several rows. The airline dropped its Business class section due to exogenous economic factors. The layout was 2 by 2 with inflight televisions and leather seating.
Airblue was the first airline in Pakistan to introduce e-ticketing, wireless check-in and self check-in kiosk facilities. The airline also became a member of Sabre system that is used by over a hundred airlines to help it with ticket automation service.
Airblue frequent flyer program is called Blue Miles. Passengers are able to initally start on the base level where sign up is free. Once passenger earn enough miles, the are upgrades to the Blue Card followed by the Platinum Card. In May 2009, the airline formed an alliance with The Royal Bank of Scotland Limited (RBS) to launch its summer promotion on its credit cards.
Airblue inaugrated its own premium lounge at Jinnah International Airport, Karachi in November 2008. Nicknamed, the Blue Lounge International, it was designed for business class passengers, credit card holders and privileged customers. The lounge offers a number of internet facilities, cable television, newspapers and magazines, massage chairs as well as a snack bar. It is located in the international wing of the airport.
To comply with Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations the airline started operating on socio-economic routes by flying to Nawabshah in central Sindh however the service was soon suspended because of low passenger load factors and the unsuitability of the A320 aircraft for this route. The suspension meant that Airblue was not compliant with CAA regulations and therefore had to incur penalty fees.
To overcome the issue of non-compliance Airblue entered into a joint venture with start-up charter airline JS Air to operate flights on its behalf on socio-economic routes. This represented the first time in Pakistani aviation history that 2 air operators entered into a joint venture arrangement. The first destination under this agreement was the port city of Gwadar which was connected to the Airblue network on 17 June and was served twice daily, except Fridays, from Karachi. The flights were operated using JS Air's 19 seater Beech 1900C aircraft which are specifically suited to serving low yield 'commuter' destinations. This service was also suspended in 2007 due to insufficient demand despite using suitable aircraft.
To deal with the fuel price hike worldwide, Airblue are converting their fleet to all economy class. This will also be applied to their new aircraft, which will be delivered starting in 2009. They are also ending full meal services and replacing it with sandwiches and pastries. In 2006 Airblue did away with chinaware crockery service for meals in economy class to cut costs and weight, replacing it with plasticware as per normal industry practice. Sometimes scheduled flights are also cancelled for cost cutting measures.
Passengers may check-in between two to 48 hours prior to flight departure. This may be done over the counter or at the self-service kiosks. Currently self service kiosks are available at Jinnah International Airport. Dnata the aviation services company handles the ground and passenger handling for the airline at all of the airports the airline operates from. Gate Gourmet provides food and beverage services to the airline.
Airblue have launched e-Cargo service to cater to air freight markets of Pakistan, UAE and UK. According to a press release, e-Cargo will broaden the base of cargo and permit certified agents to book freight directly online opening the inventory through the web.
The Airblue fleet consists of the following aircraft (at 20 December 2009):
|Airbus A320-214||0||14||156||Entry into service: 2010|
|Total||7||14||Last updated: 20 December 2009|
In November 2007, Airblue signed an agreement to purchase eight more A320 aircraft bringing the airline's total order up to 14. The deal is worth $520 million at catalogue prices. The aircraft will be configured to seat 157 passenger in two classes configuration. The delivery of the first aircraft is expected in the first quarter of 2010 from Airbus.
In March 2008, Airblue launched the Plant-A-Tree program. It involved planting of 1 million trees throughout Pakistan in the year. In May 2009, Airblue, launched a relief campaign to collect donations at its sales points and check-in counters for the victims of Swat valley conflict. The airline joined hands with HelpCounts.org to provide relief to people displaced from Swat valley due to the military operation against militants.