Independent Pakistani carrier Shaheen Air will launch European services from March 2016. A new service from Islamabad to Manchester will begin on March 15, 2016, operating three times a week.
The service to Benazir Bhutto International Airport will be serviced by an Airbus A330; an aircraft which will have 326 seats. The airline is one of the fastest growing in Pakistan, and plans to also operate flights to Copenhagen, Oslo and Milan within Europe - outside of the continent they will serve Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Currently, Shaheen serves 13 international and seven domestic destinations.
The new route is a logical growth for the carrier considering the increased international passengers travelling between the Indian subcontinent and the UK. Despite a dip in numbers during the economic downturn, figures have grown, reaching a high in 2014.
Manchester Airport is the third largest in the UK, serving 22.32 million passengers last year. International passenger numbers at Manchester Airport grew by more than 17 percent for January 2016 in comparison to 2015. Figures surpassed the one million mark – a considerable growth from 2015, where the year on year increase had been just six percent.
With numbers increasing rapidly, it is clear to see why £1 billion has been invested in Manchester Airport. This will be used for a complete transformation of the airport, as part of a ten year scheme which will see Terminal One demolished, Terminal Two double in size and linked to an improved Terminal Three. It is believed that plans are in the final stages, with work due to start in April this year, with a goal of completing Terminal Two by 2023.
Work is underway to construct Pakistan’s first Greenfield airport in Islamabad. Construction began in 2007, having acquired funding after delays. The new airport will eventually replace the current Islamabad International Airport which has become capacity constrained.
Initially, the New Benazir Bhutto International Airport will be able to handle nine million passengers, with numbers expected to rise to 15 million by 2019, and 25 million by 2024. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of the calendar year, and to be operational by January/February 2017.
Stephen Turner, Commercial Director for Manchester Airport, said: “I’m delighted that Manchester Airport has been chosen by Shaheen Air as they resume flights into the UK. Islamabad continues to be a popular destination with the 22 million people across our catchment area and this new service will provide them with additional choice for reaching the city, and also connecting around Pakistan, with Shaheen’s extensive network.”