Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will be suspending its Pakistan routes following a review of its network, bringing almost 30 months of service to an end.
The Heathrow-based carrier announced the suspension of services to Pakistan in a press statement issued on 13 February 2023.
Virgin Atlantic currently operate two routes to Pakistan, namely to Lahore and Islamabad. Services to Lahore will cease on 01 May 2023 and Islamabad on 09 July 2023.
It was announced the carrier had continued to review its network and make “a few changes” with a focus on ensuring it utilises its resources in the most optimal way to “achieve operational resilience.”
The airline’s final flights are as follows:
- LHR-LHE VS364 departs 30th April 2023 at 21:55
- LHE-LHR VS365 departs 1st May 2023 at 12:25
- LHR-ISB VS378 departs 8th July 2023 at 21:55
- ISB-LHR VS379 departs 9th July 2023 at 12:40
The airline also said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly, and we’d like to apologise for any inconvenience caused. We would like to wholeheartedly thank everyone in Pakistan; our customers, teams, partners and the authorities for their support over the past two years.”
Connections to Pakistan
Virgin Atlantic started services to Pakistan at the height of the pandemic in December 2020, to target the visiting friends and relatives market.
The new destinations for the carrier were in response to most of its pre-pandemic network still being closed to travellers – such as the United States of America.
Virgin also commenced operations in response to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) banning from Europe in July 2020, and the ensuing route demand that this ban opened.
EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, suspended the Pakistani national carrier PIA from operating in Europe in response to the tragic crash of PK8303.
PIA has since not operated within Europe but has offered services via code share agreements or other carriers, such as Virgin, operating services between Europe and Pakistan.
PIA recently announced a codeshare with Turkish to offer services between Pakistan and Istanbul, where passengers would travel onwards to Europe on Turkish Airlines services.
The UK authorities have recently concluded an audit of PIA, with European authorities to follow in March or April, with the view of lifting the ban.