Airblue began operations on June 18, 2004, with three leased Airbus A320-200 aircraft operating three regular flights between Karachi and Lahore and Karachi and Islamabad. Air Blue operated its first international flight from Karachi to Dubai on August 14, 2005. Airblue flew the Airbus A321 to Manchester for the first time on June 4, 2007. Airblue agreed to purchase one Airbus A320 and lease two Airbus A340-300s for existing and new international routes in June 2012.

It was also considering various turboprop aircraft for new domestic routes, but the idea was ultimately scrapped. Later, the A340s flew to the Middle East. Due to high operating costs, they were phased out by January 2014; they had been leased for a five-year period. Birmingham’s operations were also terminated after just three months of service, and Manchester’s operations were terminated in January 2014.

Current Airblue fleet

Currently, Airblue has 9 aircraft consisting of 4 Airbus A320-200 that have a passenger capacity of 180 passengers and 5 Airbus A321-200 that can accommodate 220 passengers. The private airline has placed an order of 5 Airbus A321neo.  The new A321neo is already in the works for acquisition. The airline’s fleet will grow to fourteen with five new aircraft of the Airbus family.

This proves that Airblue is a promising commercial airline in Pakistan because none of its competitors have stayed for this long with such successful operations. Domestic routes of Airblue include Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Multan, and Peshawar. However, the airline operates international routes, including gulf destinations, i.e., Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, and Riyadh.

No Boeing Policy

Airblue is a hybrid business model and has been operating the A320 family successfully for quite some time. In the beginning, the airline just flew A320s. The airline later bought the A321 & A319 aircraft for its fleet. This gave the fleet a total of ten aircraft. As compared to the other airlines’ A321 fleets, the airline has the newest, with an estimated service life of just three years.

From the standpoint of purchasing prices, this is a tough decision for an airline to make. However, the airline made the best choice by sticking to the same model of aircraft manufactured by the same company, Airbus. This allowed the engineering and ground handling staff to gain valuable expertise over these aircraft which have led to the successful operations of the airline. The strategic decision of acquiring A321s after A320s also proved to be effective in terms of training and managing the entire staff due to various similarities between the two.

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