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A Virgin Atlantic 787-9 landing in Los Angeles. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Virgin Atlantic Announces New Routes to Pakistan

Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to operate routes from the United Kingdom to Pakistan from December. The encouraging news comes at a crucial time for the airline that has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flights from London Heathrow will operate to the Pakistani capital Islamabad and Lahore, whilst the airline’s other hub, Manchester, will operate services to Islamabad, bringing direct competition with Pakistan International Airlines which operates flights to both destinations from the northern city.

Heathrow to Lahore will operate four times a week, whilst Heathrow to Islamabad will operate three times a week. Manchester will see four weekly flights to Islamabad. This week the airline also announced its COVID-19 insurance cover for all existing and new bookings, traveling from August 24, 2020, up until March 31, 2021.

According to the airline’s website, “In the event that they or anyone else on their booking becomes ill with COVID-19 while traveling, Virgin Atlantic COVID-19 Cover ensures related costs are covered, no matter how long the trip is or even if they’re visiting another destination on the same overseas trip.”

This week Virgin came a step closer to securing its long term future after receiving a 99% backing from its creditors for a £1.2 billion ($1.60 billion) private package. The proposal will now go to the High Court in the United Kingdom to be accepted by the U.K. government on September 2. Shortly after, a hearing in the United States will take place for it to be formally recognized across the Atlantic.

The announcement today shouldn’t cause too much surprise when looking back at the ambitions of the airline. Back in 2019, Virgin Atlantic announced its intention to expand its worldwide network with an expanded Heathrow, once the third runway was complete. However, following the global downturn of air traffic the likelihood of a third runway being built is now diminished.

The uncertainty over Virgin’s future as well as an unlikely third runway hasn’t stopped the carrier’s attempt to grow its route network, and will now bring direct competition with British Airways out of Heathrow to Islamabad, which utilizes as Boeing 787-8 on the daily BA261 flight.

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