ISLAMABAD: Virgin Atlantic has annou­nced that it will not operate flights between Manchester and Islamabad this winter.

The airline on Thursday called it a “business decision”, adding that it was continually reviewing its network and taking into account aircraft availability amid increased demand.

“All airlines are facing operational challenges and Virgin Atlantic was not alone in this. We are working with this market to see where the greatest opportunity is. Manch­ester has done extremely well for us. It’s a business decision,” said Liezl Gericke, the airline’s head of Middle East, Africa and India.

Addressing a press conference at Serena Hotel, Ms Gericke added that the airline would evaluate opportunities to resume this route in future.

She also said that despite the decision, the airline was adding more flights to Heathrow-Islamabad and Heathrow-Lahore routes.

“For us it is evidence how this market has proven to be successful,” she added.

Virgin Atlantic had commenced its flight operations for the country on December 13, 2020, after approval by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA).

“The airline launched operations in the most traumatic time when all passenger aircraft were grounded,” she said, adding that the decision was made as there was a huge diaspora population in the UK.

“During Covid-19, Pakistan presented itself as an opportunity market that could serve us well through the pandemic,” she said, adding that Virgin Atlantic had a good working relationship with the PCAA and was working closely with the government to improve it.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2022

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