Updated at 1445 on December 10:
The service from Manchester to Islamabad has now launched, with fares starting from £489 per person. Virgin Atlantic will launch flights between London Heathrow and Islamabad on December 12, and Heathrow to Lahore on December 13. The new route will operate on a B787 aircraft featuring upper class, premium economy and economy light, classic and delight cabins.
Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to launch flights from London and Manchester to Pakistan.
This December the carrier will commence routes from Heathrow and Manchester to Islamabad, and from Heathrow to Lahore.
Schedules have yet to be announced, and flights will go on sale in September, subject to applicable regulatory approvals.
Virgin’s chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen said that with travel restrictions still 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”.
The carrier said that the services would offer “seamless, speedy connections and a consistent long-haul onboard experience for customers travelling from destinations throughout North America, including New York JFK, Los Angeles, Washington, Boston and San Francisco via London Heathrow onwards to Pakistan”.
“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,” said Jarvinen.
“Both Lahore and Islamabad are popular year-round destinations and we look forward to welcoming travellers onboard as demand for leisure and business travel gradually increases to the region.
“We also see a significant opportunity to increase competition in the US – Pakistan market. Using the strength of our transatlantic services we’re able to offer customers the shortest journey to and from destinations in the US such as New York, Los Angeles and Washington by connecting through London Heathrow”.
British Airways flies between London Heathrow and Islamabad, and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) offers flights to London, Birmingham and Manchester. The country’s flag carrier is currently banned from EU and UK airspace, although PIA is understood to be chartering an A330 aircraft through Portuguese firm Hi Fly in order to continue services to the UK.