While Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) fights for the right to return to European skies, Virgin Atlantic is taking full advantage of the opportunity with three new routes to Pakistan.
PIA Files Appeal To Resume European Flights
Pakistan International Airlines was banned from the European Union and United Kingdom last month after revelations of fake pilot licenses after a deadly Airbus A320 crash in May that killed 97 of 99 passengers and crew onboard outside of Karachi. The investigation is ongoing, though Live and Let’s Fly has shared why the pilot credentialing situation may not be as bad as some make it out to be.
On Thursday, PIA filed an appeal with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) concerning its flight ban. The appeal seeks to assuage European concerns over PIA’s Safety Management System (SMS). The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration defines SMS in this way:
SMS is the formal, top-down, organization-wide approach to managing safety risk and assuring the effectiveness of safety risk controls. It includes systematic procedures, practices, and policies for the management of safety risk.
In the interim, Pakistan has contracted with Hi-Fly to offer Airbus A330-300 service between Pakistan and England (Birmingham, London, and Manchester). PIA has also established Istanbul as a European gateway in a new partnership with Turkish Airlines.
Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic Announces Pakistan Service
Hardly a coincidence, this week Virgin Atlantic announced new service to Pakistan. Starting in December 2020, Virgin Atlantic plans to serve:
- London Heathrow ⇄ Islamabad
- London Heathrow ⇄ Lahore
- Manchester ⇄ Islamabad
At this point, we do not know schedules or aircraft types, but flights will go on sale as early as next week.
We’re thrilled to announce that from December, we’ll be flying direct to Pakistan. We’ll have flights from @HeathrowAirport to both Lahore and Islamabad, plus direct services from @manairport to Islamabad. Flights go on sale in September, and we can’t wait to welcome you. pic.twitter.com/61FS9dkaFb
— virginatlantic (@VirginAtlantic) August 27, 2020
PIA’s pain is Virgin Atlantic’s gain. While Virgin Atlantic plans three new routes to Pakistan this December, PIA is fighting to return to Europe.