Air India mulls service from Mumbai to London Stansted

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on December 15, 2019

Thrice-a-week flights may take off in the summer schedule

Air India may soon launch operations between Mumbai and London’s Stansted and double operations to Toronto from Delhi, said a senior airline official on Sunday.

In the past six months, the airline has launched nine flights to international destinations.

During a media tour of the airline’s various facilities, including its Maintenance, Repair and overhaul (MRO) and the iconic Air India Tower, an official said there is great demand for international flights, especially to London or Greater London. “Stansted is a good option,” he added.

Currently, Air India operates 42 weekly flights to London. “We started an Ahmedabad-London service. We thought this would reduce pressure on the Mumbai-London sector. But it hasn’t. Interestingly, Ahmedabad-London and Mumbai-London services are both doing extremely well,” he said.

The Stansted operations will be thrice a week for the summer schedule, said the official. He added that AI will be flying six times a week between Delhi and Toronto, up from the thrice-a-week service now.

Asked if Air India would start a daily service to London from Mumbai, the official said that slots at Heathrow are a constraint. Recently, at an event in Mumbai, Virgin Atlantic’s founder, Richard Branson, too referred to this constraint. Heathrow airport is in the midst of building a new runway.

Currently, Air India operates a flight between Stansted and Amritsar with the Dreamliner aircraft. Besides Air India, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are the two other airlines flying to London from Mumbai. In the first half of FY2021, Vistara, too, is expected to start operations to London.

“We are evaluating the option to start operations either at Gatwick or Stansted. We will take a decision soon,” said Ravi Bodade, Air India’s Regional Director of the western region.

After Jet and Cox and Kings’ collapse, customers are wary of booking tickets well in advance. Addressing this issue, the official said, “Yes, passengers and agents have concerns over operations of Air India after (the collapse of) Jet Airways but we do keep assuring them that Air India is a going concern and we will be flying.”

The official explained that Air India was saving on costs because it has in-house state-of-the-art maintenance service, crew and cabin training. “We have a mandate to continue our work till the disinvestment, and we are doing that. Even if the ownership changes, we will continue to work,” he concluded.

Published on December 15, 2019

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