Air India re-jigs London ops, launches Ahmedabad – London – Newark flights

Air India opened reservation for its three weekly Ahmedabad(AMD) – London(LHR) – Newark(EWR) flight today. The flight will be effective 15th August 2016. From the same day, there will be reduction in services on Delhi(DEL) – London sector from existing 3x Daily to 2x Daily.

Air India had launched its one stop between Ahmedabad & London via Mumbai (BOM) in December 2015. The airline has been operating Ahmedabad – Mumbai – Newark flights for last few years.

The airline will also operate a once a week terminator between Ahmedabad & London to protect all its weekly slots which are being freed up by reducing a daily service between Delhi  & London.  The terminator flight would be operated every Sunday effective 21stAugust 2016. Air India had launched its third daily Delhi  – London Service in November 2015. The service is being operated by B77L and would shift to B787 Dreamliner in near future. The airline will cancel its older service which was being operated by B787 to make way for the Ahmedabad flights.

AI115 DEL0650 – 1105LHR / AI116 LHR1300 – 0250+1DEL will cease operations effective 15th August 2016. The third flight which is currently being operated by B77W will see a shift to B77L for a limited period.

It is widely believed that the freed up B777 will be utilized for non-stop services between Delhi & Washington (IAD) effective mid-August and the announcement for the same could happen when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the capital of United States in June. The Prime Minister had announced the start of non-stop flights between Delhi & San Francisco (SFO) during his tour to the US West Coast.

With this reduction, Air India will be at par with British Airways in frequencies on the Delhi – London sector. Virgin Atlantic & Jet Airways are the other two carriers with one daily on this sector with the later widely believed to launch a second daily soon. The reduction in Air India frequency could help Jet Airways.

The flights from Ahmedabad to Newark via London will operate as per below timings

AI171 AMD0500 – 1015LHR B788 135

AI171 LHR1230 – 1500EWR B788 135

AI172 EWR0200 – 1205LHR B788 246

AI172 LHR1400 – AMD0330 B788 246

AI171 AMD0440 – 0955LHR B788 7

AI172 LHR1235 – 0205AMD B788 7

The airline continues to sell its one-stop on Ahmedabad – London via Mumbai and offers connection via its hub in Delhi. Ahmedabad airport currently sees closure during the day time due to runway re-carpeting is thus seeing traffic across the operating hours including early morning and late nights. The existing one-stop also acts a feeder to other international traffic via Mumbai. It needs to be seen if Air India will continue to operate the Mumbai – Ahmedabad – Mumbai legs of both Newark & London flights, with the launch of new flights from Ahmedabad.

Air India will move to the Star Alliance terminal 2 at London Heathrow by September and offer better connections on other carriers to North America. This could see more code shares being signed in the next couple of months.

London Heathrow is one of the most expensive airports to operate and recently Oman Air was in news for purchasing one pair of slot at USD 75 million.

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