Pakistan’s Airblue to double fleet within two years

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Pakistani carrier Airblue has plans to double its fleet to 12 aircraft within the next two years.

The carrier wants to add four 70-seater turboprops to its fleet by early 2013, says Airblue's general manager for commercial, Raheel Ahmed.

It is considering the ATR 72 and the Bombardier Q400, though the airline has not decided whether the aircraft will be bought or leased.

Airblue is scheduled to take delivery of two Airbus A340-300s in early September. These aircraft are on a five-year lease from International Lease Finance Corporation.

Ahmed says that the A340s will have 342 seats in a single class configuration. The aircraft will be deployed on a direct Islamabad-Manchester service, replacing the existing Islamabad-Istanbul-Manchester route.

In August, the airline took delivery of one Airbus A320, which will be used to up frequencies on its domestic routes.

As part of its network expansion plans, Airblue may launch new destinations in Europe, Middle East and China. A timeline has not been specified for these plans. Ahmed adds that the carrier aims to be a major player on services to Europe.

According to the Flightglobal Ascend online database, Airblue operates four A319 and two A320 aircraft in its fleet.