Monday, December 21, 2020

New coronavirus strain in the UK: Will it wreck London plans of Air India and Vistara?

The new strain of the novel coronavirus in the UK has led to many European countries restricting travel to Britain. There are increasing murmurs of India, which has an air travel bubble arrangement with the UK, also doing the same.

The government will firm its opinion after the Health Ministry's top advisers, including experts from AIIMS and ICMR, meet on December 21 to take stock of the development in the UK.

Meanwhile, Vistara has told Moneycontrol, "There is no change as yet. We continue to operate one daily to LHR from Delhi."

An Air India official, on the other hand, has said that the airline is awaiting government decision.

Any travel restriction from India will impact one of the busiest international routes, especially during a time that is favourite for international travel. Air India and Vistara have services to the UK capital at present. SpiceJet, which had plans to start flying to London in December, already had to delay it after the UK had gone into a fresh lockdown in end-November.

Both Air India and Vistara announced plans to expand services to London. The national carrier had plans to fly from eight Indian cities to London. Apart from Delhi and Mumbai, the list included Kochi, Goa, Amritsar, Chennai and Ahmedabad.

The carrier also had started flights on the Delhi-Amritsar-Birmingham sector from December 11.

In November, Vistara announced plans to expand its operations to the UK. Apart from the direct flights the joint-venture airline between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines operates to London from Delhi, the full-service airline was set to fly to the UK capital from Mumbai from January 16.

"We are delighted at the very positive response to our service between Delhi and London Heathrow which has encouraged us to further strengthen the network by adding connectivity from Mumbai as we see considerable demand between the two countries, and remain optimistic about the future," Leslie Thng, Chief Executive Officer - Vistara, said during the announcement.

21/12/20 Prince Mathews Thomas/

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