Virgin Atlantic Cargo commences flights between the UK and Pakistan from 7 December, supporting growing trade volumes between the two countries.
Flights are set to launch from London Heathrow (LHR) to Lahore (LHE) four times a week from 7 December, Manchester (MAN) to Islamabad (ISB) four times a week from 10 December, and London Heathrow to Islamabad three times a week from 12 December.
“Business opportunities between the UK and Pakistan present an exciting new prospect for our customers,” says Dominic Kennedy, managing director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo. He notes that the import and export market for goods between the UK and Pakistan is “extremely healthy”, with over 114,000 tonnes of cargo moving between Europe and Pakistan each year.
“Virgin Atlantic Cargo is confident of gaining a healthy share of this new market in the weeks and months ahead,” Kennedy adds.
These flights mark the first time that Virgin Atlantic Cargo has flown to Pakistan as the airline continues to innovate and expand its destination offering in line with demand. The new services will add over 66 direct flights to Pakistan each month, expanding the direct UK to Pakistan market by 90 per cent in December alone.
The UK is the largest export market for Pakistan in Europe, transporting high volumes of goods such as textiles, apparel, and machinery. Trade in goods and services between the UK and Pakistan is worth some £3.3 billion (USD 4.2 billion) a year, rising 4.7 per cent year-on-year in 2019.
The UK is the third biggest global market for Pakistani exporters after the US and China. Virgin notes that cargo customers in Pakistan will also benefit from fast connections to prime markets in the US, as well as in Europe and Africa via London Heathrow.
Virgin Atlantic Cargo says it also expects healthy demand for capacity into Pakistan from customers across its international network.
Arshad Wali Muhammad, group director, Gerry’s Group – Virgin’s GSA in Pakistan – says: “Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s flights to Pakistan offer a fantastic opportunity for businesses to expand their export base by having a direct connection to Europe and North America via Manchester and Heathrow.
“The two destinations in the UK will be a gateway to reach over 300 networks of destinations worldwide. With Gerry’s as GSA for Pakistan, we look forward to including this successful new service within our network.”
And similarly, Virgin’s cargo handling partner in Pakistan expressed confidence in the success of the new services. Janis Balkens, dnata CEO, New and Emerging Markets, says: “We are excited to extend our long-standing partnership with Virgin Atlantic Cargo to Pakistan and are proud to now also offer our award-winning, safe and reliable services across these new routes.
“We will ensure the success in London Heathrow and Manchester, as well as Islamabad and Lahore, providing our seamless multi-service offering to Virgin Atlantic Cargo and its customers. We have been partners for decades in the UK across our cargo operations… and we look forward to replicating this success in Pakistan.”