Virgin Atlantic launching flights to Pakistan — here’s what that means for the U.S.
Virgin Atlantic has today announced it will be launching three new, nonstop routes to Pakistan in December. The airline will commence flights from London Heathrow (LHR) to Islamabad (ISB) and Lahore (LHE), as well as from Manchester (MAN) to Islamabad, subject to regulatory approvals.
The airline also hopes to connect travelers between Pakistan and the United States, via its Heathrow and Manchester hubs.
The surprise announcement of the new routes comes at a time when airlines worldwide reduce services and slash routes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Virgin Atlantic has been hit particularly hard as many destinations in its existing route network — such as the United States and South Africa — are currently not allowing entry to British travelers.
Pre-pandemic, Pakistan flag carrier Pakistan International Airlines had maintained a substantial route network between the United Kingdom and Pakistan. PIA has since been banned from flying to Europe (including the U.K.) for the remainder of 2020 following a review of the airline’s safety practices by the European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA). A PIA Airbus A320 crashed in May 2020 in Pakistan with 97 passengers and crew killed. An investigation revealed the captain and first officer failed to follow standard safety procedures, or recognize alarms. The EASA also understands a “high number” of PIA pilots licenses are invalid.
The ban on PIA represents an opening for Virgin Atlantic to commence flying between the two countries for the first time.
“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″ Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic explained. “Both Lahore and Islamabad are popular year-round destinations and we look forward to welcoming travelers onboard as demand for leisure and business travel gradually increases to the region.”
These new flights are due to go on sale in September. Schedules, frequencies and aircraft type are yet to be announced.
Featured image by Muhammad Owais Khan/Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees