Pakistan’s domestic aviation market has seen substantial growth over the last decade, driven by an expanding middle class and business sector. More Pakistanis can now afford to fly rather than spend days traveling by road or rail. The market is serviced by several airlines and a network of airports across major cities.

  • Pakistan has several domestic airlines including Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Shaheen Air, AirBlue, and SereneAir. PIA is the national flag carrier.
  • The main domestic airports are in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Multan. There are also smaller regional airports.
  • Some popular domestic routes are Lahore-Karachi, Islamabad-Karachi, Islamabad-Lahore, Peshawar-Karachi and Quetta-Karachi.
  • Flight frequency is highest between major cities like Lahore-Karachi with multiple daily flights. Frequency reduces for smaller cities.
  • Domestic air travel has grown significantly in recent years in Pakistan due to an expanding middle class. More people can afford to fly rather than take long overland journeys.
  • Checked baggage allowance is usually 20-30 kg on domestic flights, with a 5-7 kg cabin baggage limit. Excess charges apply for extra bags.

Pakistan International Airlines

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is the national flag carrier and the largest airline in the domestic sector with a market share of around 45%. PIA connects all major cities and also operates flights to smaller regional hubs. It has a fleet of Boeing and Airbus aircraft. PIA’s domestic fares are regulated by the government. The airline offers discounts for early booking, plus amenities like in-flight entertainment and meals on most flights. However, its service standards have declined over the years.

Shaheen Airlines

Shaheen Air was the second largest carrier, with around 25% market share before it shut down operations in 2018. AirBlue, based in Karachi, now competes with PIA as the second biggest private airline in the country. It operates a fleet of Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft on major trunk routes. AirBlue offers competitive fares, online booking, in-flight amenities and reliable service. It has frequent flights between Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, and other cities.

SereneAir

SereneAir is a smaller private airline that started in 2017 and mainly connects northern cities Islamabad, Peshawar, and Quetta to other hubs. It has a fleet of ATR 42 and ATR 72 propeller aircraft. SereneAir offers discount fares and provides service to underserved routes that lack capacity.

Some other small airlines like Princely Jets and Air Indus also operate limited domestic services. Princely Jets has flights between Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad using Falcon business jets. Air Indus connects hubs like Karachi and Skardu using small propeller aircraft.

The major domestic airports are in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Multan. These airports have modern facilities and infrastructure to handle most commercial airliners. Other smaller regional airports like Faisalabad, Sialkot, and Gwadar cater to propeller aircraft. The government is also developing new airports at Turbat, Dera Ghazi Khan and Sialkot to improve domestic connectivity.

The busiest domestic air routes are between Karachi-Lahore, Karachi-Islamabad, Lahore-Islamabad, Peshawar-Karachi and Quetta-Karachi. These trunk routes may see over 70 weekly flights and intense competition between airlines. Other routes like Lahore-Quetta, Peshawar-Multan or Islamabad-Gwadar have lower frequency, usually less than 10 flights per week.

On major routes, one-way full fares generally range from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 30,000 but can go up to Rs. 50,000 for last-minute bookings. Airlines actively compete to offer discounts on early booking or special promotional fares as low as Rs. 8,000 one-way. Domestic travel peaks between May to August as well as during holiday periods when fares are also higher. Off-season fares in winter can be 30% cheaper.

Online booking is available on all major airline websites. E-ticketing allows passengers to check-in quickly without lengthy queues. Electronic boarding passes can be generated on phones for additional convenience. Some airlines also offer mobile apps for booking and check-in. Payment options include credit/debit cards, bank transfers and e-wallets.

Checked baggage allowance on domestic flights is usually 20-30 kg depending on the airline. Cabin baggage is limited to one piece up to 5-7 kg. Excess luggage charges apply if passengers exceed the limits. AirBlue offers more generous 30 kg checked allowance with 7 kg hand baggage while SereneAir has 20 kg check-in and just 5 kg hand baggage.

Onboard services include complimentary snacks and beverages like juices, carbonated drinks and tea/coffee. PIA and AirBlue also have inflight magazines and offer multimedia entertainment via personal screens on some aircraft. Business class features wider seating, better meals and hospitality on major routes. Shorter flights have limited services beyond drinks and snacks. Selected routes may also offer meal sales onboard.

Domestic air travel in Pakistan is projected to grow at over 10% per year over the next decade. New airlines may launch while existing ones expand fleets and destinations. More competition should make fares affordable for common Pakistanis. Regional connectivity will improve with upgrades to secondary airports. The convenient and faster option of flying versus long road journeys will propel Pakistan’s domestic aviation market forward.