|Commenced operations||18 June 2004|
|Hubs||Jinnah International Airport (Karachi)|
|Frequent-flyer program||Blue Miles|
Islamabad Stock Exchange Towers|
Airblue Limited (styled as airblue) is a private Pakistani low-cost airline with its head office on the 12th floor of the Islamabad Stock Exchange (ISE) Towers in Islamabad, Pakistan. Airblue operates scheduled domestic and international flights to Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The airline was established in 2003 and started operations on 18 June 2004 with three leased Airbus A320-200 aircraft serving Karachi–Lahore and Karachi–Islamabad with three daily flights in each direction. The airline was inaugurated in 2004 by Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali.
During the first year the airline became very popular, which allowed the airline to compete directly with the flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines and the two other private carriers, flying more than 400,000 passengers in the first year with a load factor of over 90%. This allowed the airline to expand into more cities in Pakistan including Peshawar, Quetta and Nawabshah.
Airblue changed its IATA code from ED to PA in June 2012, the new code originally belonged to the defunct and once iconic carrier Pan American World Airways. In 2011 the airline launched service to Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen Airport - a route which was ultimately terminated.
In June 2012, Airblue finalised an agreement to acquire one Airbus A320 and two leased A340-300s for existing and new international routes. It was also looking at various types of turboprop aircraft for new domestic routes but this plan was eventually dropped. The A340s joined the fleet in October 2012, enabling the airline to strengthen its Manchester route with nonstop flights as well as launch a second UK destination Birmingham in September 2013, and connect both stations with Lahore. The A340s later also flew to the Middle East. Technical issues related to the aircraft eventually led to them being phased out by January 2014; they had been leased for a five-year term. UK operations also ended with Birmingham being dropped after just three months' service and Manchester ending in January 2014.
All aircraft in the fleet have a 3-by-3 layout in an all economy cabin; and have overhead video screens. Airblue formerly had a business class section, but dropped it due to exogenous economic factors.
Frequent flyer program
The Airblue frequent flyer program is called "Blue Miles". Passengers are able to initially start on the base level where sign up is free. Once passengers earn enough miles, there are upgrades to the Blue Card followed by the Platinum Card. In May 2009, the airline formed an alliance with Faysal Bank to offer credit cards.
Airblue inaugurated its own premium lounge at Jinnah International Airport, Karachi in November 2008. It has since been closed. Named the Blue Lounge International, it was designed for business class passengers, credit card holders and privileged customers. The lounge offered Internet facilities, cable television, newspapers and magazines, massage chairs and a snack bar. It was located in the international terminal of the airport.
Airblue has launched e-Cargo service to cater to air freight markets of Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. 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 Web.
Accidents and incidents
- On July 28, 2010, an Airblue Airbus A321 registered AP-BJB, performing flight ED202 (a domestic service from Karachi to Islamabad) with 146 passengers and 6 crew on board, was on approach to Islamabad Airport in poor weather conditions when the aircraft impacted the Margalla Hills about 10 nm(18.52 km) north of the airport at an elevation of about 1,000 feet (300 m) above the city. Radio contact with the aircraft was lost at approx. 09:45 local time. All 152 occupants of the aircraft were killed in the crash.
- "Contacting Us." Airblue. Retrieved on 28 July 2010. "Airblue Limited (Corporate Headquarters) 12th Floor, ISE Towers 55-B Jinnah Avenue Islamabad 111-247-258."
- Schmitz 2006, p. 57.
- "Pakistan’s popular private airline AirBlue to begin Flights to UK in May" Pakistan Times, Printed Jan 28, 2007
- Schmitz 2006, p. 58.
- AirBlue Begins Pakistan-UK Flights from June 1
- Airblue schedule
- Airblue former map
- Air Gwadar service
- Airblue ATR72 service advertisement
- Airbue launch Istanbul
- "Air Blue suspends Birmingham to Pakistan flights". BBC News. 21 November 2013. Archived from the original on 19 February 2015.
- "Airblue Cancels Islamabad – Manchester Service from late-January 2014". Routes Online. 20 January 2014. Archived from the original on 19 November 2016.
- Promotional Campaign Launched
- Airblue e-Cargo
- "Global Airline Guide 2017 (Part Two)". Airliner World (November 2017): 28.
- Airblue wetleases Ukrainian A330
- "Crash: AirBlue A321 near Islamabad on Jul 28th 2010, impacted mountaineous [sic] terrain near the airport". The Aviation Herald. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- Schmitz, Sebastian. "airblue: A New High Flyer from Pakistan". Air International, January 2006, Vol 70 No 1. pp. 56–58. ISSN 0306-5634.