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British Airways Responds To Virgin Atlantic: Adds New Route To Pakistan & Accelerates Another

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At the beginning of September, Virgin Atlantic announced that it would be launching three new routes to Pakistan from later this year as the airline looks to move away (at least temporarily) from its heavy reliance on transatlantic traffic. Now, less than two weeks after Virgin Atlantic’s announcement, British Airways has responded and it’s not good news for the smaller carrier.

British Airways Increases Services To Islamabad

British Airways was set to increase the number of flights it offers between London and Islamabad from the first week of October but, for rather obvious reasons, the airline has brought forward the frequency increase and is already offering a daily service out of Heathrow (prior to 14 September this route was operated just 3x/week).

Here’s the new schedule:

BA261 LHR 21:30 – 09:20+1 day ISB (Daily)
BA260 ISB 11:15 – 16:00 LHR (Daily)

British Airways operates this route using a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

[HT: Routes Online]

British Airways New Pakistan Route

British Airways took time out yesterday to announce that it will be operating a new service between London Heathrow and Lahore from early October.

Here’s the schedule as it currently stands:

BA259 LHR 17:55 – 05:40+1 day LHE (Mon, Wed, Fri & Sun)
BA258 LHE 08:00 – 12:55 LHR (Mon, Tue, Thu & Sat)

As the British Airways tweet confirms, this route is set to be operated by a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.


Starting up new routes to/from Pakistan must have been an attractive proposition to Virgin Atlantic because, at the time of its announcement, British Airways only offered service on one of Virgin’s proposed three routes (and only 3x/week) and Pakistan International Airlines is currently banned from flying to/from the UK. Competition looked to be thin on the ground.

This is no longer the case.

Pakistan International Airlines is still banned from flying to/from the UK (long may that continue), but British Airways is now operating a daily service between Heathrow and Islamabad (a route that Virgin only plans to operate 3x/week), and it’s about to start up a 4x/week service between Heathrow and Lahore (Virgin also plans a 4x/weeks service).

Virgin Atlantic will still have a monopoly on the Manchester – Islamabad service but things are looking far from rosy on the other two routes…especially when you consider the fact that BA is already operating on one of these routes and will be operating on the other by 12 October. Virgin Atlantic doesn’t plan to offer its services before the middle of December.

Bottom Line

British Airways has just put a big dampener of Virgin Atlantic’s plans to operate new routes to/from Pakistan by increasing services to Islamabad and announcing a new service to Lahore. It’s going to be interesting to see if Virgin can make its new routes pay off or if, as BA is clearly hoping, the airline is scared off before the new routes can be started.

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  1. Virgin shouldn’t be too surprised that this happened. They had to know there was a big possibility that British Airways would add those flights.

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