Virgin Atlantic launching flights to Pakistan — here’s what that means for the U.S.

Aug 27, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

Related: Virgin Atlantic to temporarily suspend passenger operations

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.

TPG flew PIA’s premium product last year and had a disappointing experience from start to finish.

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.”

Related: 5 things I wish I’d known before traveling to Pakistan

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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.