Friday, October 21, 2022

As Air India advertises flights to London Heathrow and Vistara gets a foot in the door, a fight is looming for the remaining slots

Operations to London Heathrow have been the darling of Indian carriers. From Jet Airways, Air Sahara and Kingfisher Airlines to Vistara, getting a foot in the door at London Heathrow has been an immensely challenging, yet worthwhile task.

Apart from its old charm, the sheer traffic and ability to monetise the slot at Heathrow after a few years have been attractive for airlines.

As Air India -- now a private entity -- advertises its 42 weekly flights and Vistara gets a permanent slot at London Heathrow, all eyes are on what IndiGo and SpiceJet do.

Both airlines have in the past filed for slots at London Heathrow. SpiceJet had come very close to launching flights, having started the sale of seats as well, before it pulled out.

In more ways than one, the next few seasons will seal the deal for London flights to occupy the space vacated by Jet Airways, which once had a strong footing at London Heathrow.

Air India will operate 42 weekly flights to London Heathrow but the slots scattered across the day are presenting its own challenges. Pre-COVID, the airline had operations from Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad.

The Ahmedabad flight continued to New York, which was later changed to add Bengaluru-London Heathrow flights. The airline has approval for 56 weekly flights, as was the case pre-COVID as well. This means the airline could potentially add 14 more flights in the season.

These are currently planned with double daily from Delhi, 12 weekly from Mumbai, four weekly each from Ahmedabad and Amritsar, thrice a week from Goa and Kochi and twice a week service from Hyderabad. With this, it competes with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic but with a challenge -- split slots!

The schedule on the route shared by travel data provider OAG Aviation, exclusively for this article, shows how fragmented the Air India schedule is. Air India has monopoly operations to London Heathrow from Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Kochi and Goa. British Airways, likewise, has a monopoly to Chennai.

21/10/22 Ameya Joshi/Moneycontrol

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment