AirSial expands into int’l market with direct flights to Jeddah 

Company commences int'l operations two and a half years after entering local market

LAHORE: AirSial Limited is the latest Pakistani airline to enter the international market with its decision to launch daily direct flights to Jeddah from Lahore and Islamabad. The first flight to Jeddah took-off from Lahore on March 29. AirSial will operate four weekly flights each from Lahore and Islamabad, utilising Airbus A320s with an all-economy configuration of 180 seats.

This service will initially be available from these two cities and later expanded to include Karachi, Sialkot, and Peshawar in the second phase. “The domestic market is typically very small in Pakistan so whenever an airline begins operations, their aim is to eventually commence international operations. Once they do so, then sky’s the limit, ” says Ameen Ahsan, CEO of AirSial. 

“The greatest demand for Pakistani travellers going abroad is for Umrah, and Jeddah is the destination of choice for the majority of them. Airlines typically commence their international operations from this route, and so have we,” Ahsan adds. 

Getting till here 

AirSial, based out of Sialkot, is the third largest private Pakistani airline. The company was founded by members of the Sialkot Chambers of Commerce in 2017 with it commencing operations on December 25, 2020. The company has, however, had to wait longer than the designated period outlined by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to obtain its licence to operate international flights. 

The CAA outlines that designated airlines become eligible to commence operations on international routes after one year of continued satisfactory operations on domestic routes. AirSial has had to wait two and a half years. 

Saudi Arabia and beyond? 

“We plan to add Riyadh, Dammam, Medina, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Muscat, and Kuwait  in the future as part of our first phase of international expansion,” says Ahsan. “We will look at Europe and the rest of the world as part of our second phase,” Ahsan continues. 

AirSial’s decision to go international does come at a time when international carriers are at odds with the Pakistani government over the issue of being able to repatriate their funds. The issue has previously also led to carriers such as Emirates, and Turkish Airways removing access to their low cost inventory to Pakistan based sales agents. 

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Daniyal Ahmad
Daniyal Ahmad
The author is a member of the staff, and covers the automobile sector as a sector analyst. He can be reached at [email protected]


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