In March this year, I wrote “We will have to wait much longer than before to know where the aircraft eventually flies but I have become more confident that the airline would now get a slot at London Heathrow and willing to stick my neck out to say Delhi – London Heathrow will be its first long haul widebody operation” and it is turning out to be true.
The airport website of London Heathrow has started listing Vistara and Spicejet flights, effective 16th August and 1st September respectively. Both the airlines had filed for slots at London Heathrow in the Summer 2020 schedule but saw their applications rejected. On the backdrop of pandemic, there was little movement between India and the UK, but the market would have been very interesting
London Heathrow – one the most congested airports in the world has now put it on their website the arrival and departure times of both Vistara and Spicejet. As per the website, Vistara would operate four times a week between New Delhi and London Heathrow. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays – the flight would arrive at London Heathrow at 0655 hours and depart for New Delhi at 1400 hours. The slot is effective 16th August 2020. For Spicejet, the slot is effective 1st September and would see Daily arrival at London Heathrow at 1525 hours and departure for New Delhi at 1725 hours.
Both Spicejet and Vistara will operate from Terminal 2 at London Heathrow- which also sees operations by Air India and Vistara’s equity partner Singapore Airlines.
While we know the equipment for Vistara, Spicejet equipment would be known in due course of time. Spicejet had applied for the slots with A330 as its equipment. The schedule could look as below, with timings at Delhi being tentative
UK015 DEL0010 – 0655LHR
UK016 LHR1535 – 0440 (+1) DEL
SG091 DEL1015 – 1525LHR
SG092 LHR1725 – 0455 (+1) DEL
While Spicejet can operate with a single aircraft, the seven hour ground time in London for Vistara would mean that it needs the second aircraft to operate, even when the airline is not operating daily flights or fear a very tight turn around in Delhi of departure every Monday.
While most expected Vistara to fly to London, doubts were always raised about Spicejet. With the schedules listed, the airline is one step closer. Interestingly, Spicejet is holding a realistic 1st September start date while for Vistara to start in the next five days without having flights open for sale is a challenge.
The airport’s website has since been updated with the start date for Vistara pushed to 21st August with an updated flight number
Like I have said in the past, airlines could apply for slots, receive them and then make amendments to the slots. This means that airlines can delay the start date and have adequate time in place to open the sale of flights and start selling flights.
(Last Updated: 17th August, 1540hrs)