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Why does BA fly into Islamabad but not Lahore or Karachi?

Why does BA fly into Islamabad but not Lahore or Karachi?

Old Oct 13, 05, 9:15 am
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Why does BA fly into Islamabad but not Lahore or Karachi?

Is Islamabad air space more secure or something?
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Old Oct 13, 05, 10:03 am
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Politics more than security I would think. I don't think there's that much business demand to anywhere in Pakistan, but they probably have a fair bit of government work (and government pressure) to fly to Islamabad.
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Old Oct 13, 05, 10:13 am
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I'm just thinking in terms of Karachi is huge and Lahore is the traditional capitol of the Punjab, so there's history and culture there, Islamabad being smallish and new. Things are not that tourist-friendly right now, of course, but even with political pressure, I'd think if they fly to Islamabad, what with all the Pakistani expatriates in the UK, there's be some incentive to go to Lahore and Karachi. Eh, what do I know about running an airline?
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Old Oct 13, 05, 10:36 am
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Originally Posted by anonplz
I'm just thinking in terms of Karachi is huge and Lahore is the traditional capitol of the Punjab, so there's history and culture there, Islamabad being smallish and new. Things are not that tourist-friendly right now, of course, but even with political pressure, I'd think if they fly to Islamabad, what with all the Pakistani expatriates in the UK, there's be some incentive to go to Lahore and Karachi. Eh, what do I know about running an airline?
Whilst Islamabad is relatively small (pop 800,000), its neighbour city Rawalpindi has a population of 1.4 million. Granted, combined that is still less than Karachi or Lahore. But the money is in Islamabad - this is the political centre, and a large number of companies have their headquarters there - these are the potential customers not the ordinary population of Pakistan.

Whilst Islamabad is relatively new, as a destination the area has much to offer - with the Himalayas to the north (with eagles soaring outside the office buildings), and the Murree brewery in Rawalpindi don't underestimate it!

[To get a beer in the hotel in Islamabad I had to fill out a form that needed not only my details, but my father's too - a bit disconcerting - but well worth it!]
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Old Oct 13, 05, 11:03 am
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Originally Posted by TMC
[To get a beer in the hotel in Islamabad I had to fill out a form that needed not only my details, but my father's too - a bit disconcerting - but well worth it!]
Many years ago in a hotel in Karachi I had to sign the form that I was a registered alcoholic before they would give me a beer! Maybethey knew how I would turn out But then I had just smuggled two bottles of Johnnie Walker into the country for the (genuinely alcoholic) head of our office in Pakistan. I was a very new employee and very young so I believed him when he said that if I was caught I just needed to give one bottle to the customs guard
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Old Oct 13, 05, 11:32 am
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Just asked my other half, who is actually from Islamabad.

He could think of a couple of reasons why BA specifically fly to Islamabad.

First of all, there are a lot of expats there and Rawalpindi - more than anywhere else in Pakistan - and there are a lot of NGOs. Apparently Pakistani expats living in Britain don't generally tend to fly BA because Halal food isn't as prevalent, and PIA do things like have an entire channel which contains nothing but Koranic verses.

Apparently the UN also fly one flight a day from Islamabad to Kabul; my other half surmised that BA might provide some feeder traffic to this.
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Old Oct 13, 05, 1:55 pm
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BA and most european carriers dropped KHI in the nineties and just after 9 freaking 11 for a combination of the following reasons:

1) Low yield destination - huge volume but mostly discounted Y class pax/small no. of J pax/v.small F revenue pax.
2) Security situation in KHI is tentative at the best of times - correctly or incorrectly perceived as an unsafe place for crews to layover.
3) Refueling costs/parking fees are high at KHI.

However, the prime reason BA and other european carriers have pulled out of KHI is that Emirates has become the dominant international carrier in and out of the city and no one can compete against them.

Pakistans open skies policy has allowed EK to target and profit from KHI handsomely. Add to that EK's lower fares, better service in all classes and choice of multiple flights a day from KHI to pretty much every major business destination on earth, and you have a product that no one can compete against... for instance, it's hard to compete when your product offers two flights a week to LHR and EK offers 5 flights a day to your choice of LHR or LGW.

As for Lahore, I would not be surprised if BA adds LHE to its network in the next year or so. EK, GF, TG, SV, KU, PK and a low cost Swedish airline already fly there. TG is about to expand LHE operations and MH is about to initiate service there too. PK already offers LHE-ORD, LHE-IAH, LHE-JFK, LHE-MAN, LHE-LHR and other international flights, so it's certainly an up and coming international destination. The new LHE airport and data indicating that large numbers of international pax originate their journeys there and pay higher fares have helped generate new service. Having said that, I think the deciding factors would be J and F class yields ex LHE and the potential to get soaked by EK.

BA retains ISB because J and F class yields are high ex-ISB. A high volume of diplomatic and governmental traffic helps. Also, there is a huge Kashmiri/Northern Punjabi population in Britain that have proven to be loyal BA customers for 30 plus years. It's a route that definitely could sustain daily flights from LHR instead of the 3 or so per week it currently receives.

A bit more than you might have wanted to know, but I hope that helps answer your question.

Last edited by PhlyingRPh; Oct 13, 05 at 2:03 pm
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Old Oct 13, 05, 1:58 pm
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Originally Posted by aristoph
I was a very new employee and very young so I believed him when he said that if I was caught I just needed to give one bottle to the customs guard
Aristoph, He was right... and he is still right.
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Old Oct 13, 05, 2:23 pm
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Originally Posted by PhlyingRPh
A bit more than you might have wanted to know, but I hope that helps answer your question.
Yes, thanks!
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Old Oct 13, 05, 4:10 pm
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Please, don't give them ideas........
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Old Oct 13, 05, 4:26 pm
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From a business perspective, Karachi would be it and not Islamabad. However, Islamabad area has more of that magic thing called OPM that fills up the forward cabins. (Other people's money .... and the sort.)

However, in terms of family/relatives, a rather high proportion of Brits of Pakistani (or then-Indian origin) are from the northern areas, the Punjab and/or Mirpuris from the N/NE.

Another thing to note is that, for a variety of historical reasons, a significant number of upper and upper middle class people of Karachi are not the biggest fans of the Brits, the Punjabis (or, to some degree, Pakistani Mirpuris and Pakistani Kashmiris). That may show up in part of the reason why some Karachi people generally have a stronger preference to fly Gulf carriers (such as Emirates) than BA -- even when geography and price is not the distinguishing factor. The military, political and bureaucratic families that are a historical legacy have a stronger preference for BA. Geography has a large part to do with that, but so does "historical legacy" from when the crown had more geographic "jewels". (And so the people, and their descendants, who think that the British Crown gave them a raw deal -- and boosted "the other" -- haven't completely dropped their complaints.)

Karachi is also less politically stable and criminal elements seem far more at home there than in the Pakistani capital and its surrounding areas. Sort of like Bombay ... down to customs.

Last edited by GUWonder; Oct 13, 05 at 4:32 pm
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Old Oct 14, 05, 2:08 am
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Originally Posted by PhlyingRPh
...and a low cost Swedish airline already fly there.
Thanks for the info!

By the way, if you're talking about SweFly, I think that they have gone out of business. A look at their website says as much: http://www.swefly.com

Originally Posted by PhlyingRPh
Also, there is a huge Kashmiri/Northern Punjabi population in Britain that have proven to be loyal BA customers for 30 plus years.
Have they? The vast majority of Kashmiris and Northern Punjabis in Britain live in the North Midlands and Yorkshire (Manchester and Bradford, for instance) and keep the MAN-ISB (8x weekly), MAN-KHI (2x weekly) and MAN-LHE (4x weekly) flights on PIA pretty full. I am pretty sure that most Pakistanis fly PIA rather than BA.

Last edited by ajax; Oct 14, 05 at 2:26 am
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Old Oct 14, 05, 2:41 am
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Originally Posted by ajax
Have they? The vast majority of Kashmiris and Northern Punjabis in Britain live in the North Midlands and Yorkshire (Manchester and Bradford, for instance) and keep the MAN-ISB (8x weekly), MAN-KHI (2x weekly) and MAN-LHE (4x weekly) flights pretty full. I am pretty sure that most Pakistanis fly PIA rather than BA.
I was under the impression that there are more Mirpuris than Kashmiris in those areas. Is that incorrect? (Many Indians and Pakistanis -- and especially Pakistani Mirpuris -- claim to be Kashmiri in part or whole; however, a lot of those claims are very questionable/tangential, geographically-, linguistically-, & culturally-speaking.)

I ask because the Kashmiri (Kashmiri-speaking) population in the now Pakistani part of Kashmir has been quite small vis-a-vis the now Indian part of Kashmir, and because the numbers of Kashmiris who migrated to the areas you mentioned from the now Indian part of Kashmir -- where the overwhelming bulk of Kashmiris have been from -- has been quite small and far more recent than the Mirpuris migration. There are certainly a lot of ethnic Mirpuris and Punjabis in the UK, but not nearly as many Kashmiris there -- at least by measure of the ease in finding Pothohari (Mirpuri) and Punjabi speakers vs. finding Kashmiri (Kashmiri-speaking) ones.

Last edited by GUWonder; Oct 14, 05 at 2:45 am
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Old Oct 14, 05, 2:43 am
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An LHE service could also serve the Amritsar market (subject to further easing of political tensions and easier entry facilities such as visa on arrival). Possibly with a connecting bus service.
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Old Oct 14, 05, 2:46 am
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Originally Posted by jahason
An LHE service could also serve the Amritsar market (subject to further easing of political tensions and easier entry facilities such as visa on arrival). Possibly with a connecting bus service.
How long a bus ride would that be with decent roads? 90 minutes?
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