I have always been interested in the India – UK market. It is the largest O-D market for a very long time and while the US market sees passengers travel one-stop, the UK market is all about a focus on non-stops! The market is also interesting because of how the bilateral rights are structured – capped for London Heathrow but open for other airports!
ACL – which handles slots for airports in the UK (and few others across the world) declares the slot details on its website, which makes it easier to track. Based on ACL declarations, Network Thoughts was the first to break the news of total seats on Vistara’s Dreamliner and sticking my neck out I had predicted that London Heathrow it would be for Vistara – which turned out to be true.
Read: IndiGo, Spicejet and Vistara had filed slots at London Heathrow for Summer 2020
The market was revving up after the suspension of Jet Airways and had seen Virgin Atlantic enter the fray with addition of destinations and frequencies, until everything came to a halt due to the pandemic.
Read: What Summer 2020 could look like for India – UK market?
Read: Virgin Atlantic opens reservations for its third flight to India
Over the last couple of seasons, both IndiGo and SpiceJet have been filing and in some cases even obtaining slots at various airports in the United Kingdom. SpiceJet came closest to launching flights having announced flights to London Heathrow and then pulling out at the last moment for reasons best known to them. The pandemic has significantly changed the landscape for travel and come winter 2021, neither of the LCCs have slots at airports in UK!
The most sought-after airport in the United Kingdom and possibly the whole world for its ability to sell slots when an airline has grandfather rights! The airport has been giving out slots without historicity.
Vistara has been granted slots to operate two daily departures to Delhi from London Heathrow, from the very first day of the season till the end of season. The airline has been allotted one pair of slots this season.
Air India – which will soon be owned by the TATA’s has approval for 4 daily services from London Heathrow. Air India has filed for flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Goa, and Kochi.
SpiceJet which had filed for double daily flights to London Heathrow in the initial co-ordination has not obtained any slots at the airport. It could either be the airline opting out of the process or the airport not granting slots after the airline not starting operations
Air India has decreased service to Birmingham from Amritsar/Delhi in Winter Schedule. The airline will operate only 2x weekly flights from Amritsar and none from New Delhi. No other airline has been allotted slots at Birmingham.
Both IndiGo and SpiceJet were interested in operations to London, Manchester, Birmingham. While SpiceJet always filed for flights with the A330s, IndiGo filed with its A321neo.
IndiGo was also in advanced discussions for a tech stop on the caucuses with Baku being one of the options and the other being Tbilisi! None of that materialized until COVID and things changed drastically since the pandemic began! IndiGo could well wait it out for the A321XLRs to arrive and see what its range is realistically proven.
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