Vistara’s B787-9 to have 299 seats, bags slots at London Gatwick along with IndiGo

IndiGo – India’s largest carrier by domestic market share and Vistara – India’s only private full-service carrier (FSC) have both bagged slots at London Gatwick. The information comes from initial coordination report and is subject to change. The airport was world’s busiest single runway airport until Mumbai overtook it. London Gatwick is a case study for highest air traffic movements per hour for an airport with single runway.

This comes on the backdrop of both these airlines and Spicejet having filed for slots at London Heathrow and not being allowed the slot. While London Heathrow operations from Mumbai and New Delhi are capped at 56 frequencies per week, there aren’t such restrictions to other airports in London region or in the United Kingdom.

While this website had reported that IndiGo intends to fly to Manchester with the A330-300, its slot filing at London Gatwick also shows the airline operate with the A330-300 with 341 seats. The airline had requested 14 slots per week at London Gatwick, all of which were approved – giving the airline daily flights to New Delhi. The airline has asked for a daily flight from the start of the Northern Summer Schedule, going by the schedule released by ACL – the slot coordinators for London Gatwick. IndiGo is also holding slots at London Stansted for a daily flight to Delhi.

Vistara has asked for 28 slots, translating into 14 departures per week but the airline has been allocated 16 slots, indicating 8 departures per week. Interestingly, this filing gives out the total seats for Vistara aircraft. The calculation of frequencies and seats allotted shows that Vistara will operate its B787-9 with 299 seats. The airline operates its A320 fleet in three-class configuration and it is expected that the same would continue with the B787-9. The airline has already announced its deal with Panasonic Avionics for its new Arc inflight Map Platform. This could be backup plan for Vistara, as it awaits delivery of its B787-9s, subsequent government approvals for being designated carrier on Mumbai/Delhi to London Heathrow and ask for slots at London Heathrow – either from airport pool, purchase or lease.

It is still unclear where the A330-300s of IndiGo would come from, but I am guessing that these would be ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, Insurance) deal.

Snippet from details released by ACL for London Gatwick

The India – UK market is getting interesting again with Virgin Atlantic starting its second daily to New Delhi, and carriers from India waiting to mount flights to the UK.

Not the first time

This is not the first time that IndiGo has filed for slots at airports in UK. Last summer IndiGo had filed for slots at London Stansted for flights from New Delhi and Bengaluru, operated by the A321neo. Air India, since then, has started flights to London Stansted from Amritsar. IndiGo and rival Spicejet had also filed for flights to Birmingham. While IndiGo’s last filings were based on A321neo, Spicejet had filed with a 267-seater A330. None of the plans have materialized for the low-cost carriers yet.

The India – UK market is getting interesting and Network Thoughts will keep tracking it going forward. It will be worthwhile to note that a slot filing does not mean that the airline will start flights, but only indicates inclination of the airline to start operations. However, a repetitive filing of slots and not operating does dent the credibility of any airline.


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