Vistara – the Joint Venture of Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines group, has been allotted one pair of slot at London Heathrow starting Winter 2022 schedule which will be effective October 30, 2022. In March 2020, I had written that I was confident that Vistara will get slots at London Heathrow. This indeed came true as was my earlier prediction about Vistara’s fleet which was written in 2017.
IndiGo, SpiceJet and Vistara have been filing for slots at London Heathrow and on occasions seeing them get allocated, only to return the slots later. IndiGo had filed for one stop flights via Baku, while SpiceJet had even announced operations with wet leased wide body aircraft which never materialized. Vistara, on the other hand, had a fleet of widebody aircraft of its own. The website of London Heathrow had started listing flights of Vistara in August 2020 and the airline opened these flights for sale within days of this listing.
ACL – The slot co-ordination agency declared the initial coordination report for London Heathrow today. It shows Vistara as a new operator and has been granted two slots per day, translating to one pair which will take care of its current daily departure from New Delhi.
The airline recently went Daily on flights to London Heathrow from Delhi which saw its widebody aircraft utilisation go up. While Heathrow follows the famous “Use it or lose it” rule for slots, the last two years driven by pandemic and seen airlines not operate the approved slots. The airport, like most others, had given out slots temporarily. As the world moves towards normalization, the war between Ukraine and Russia and subsequent sanctions has meant that the slot availability has gone up again at London Heathrow.
Very few airports offer rights on slots and ability to sell them once an airline had grandfather rights and Heathrow is one of them. Pre-COVID, slots have been sold/purchased for millions of dollars. But the sudden availability of slots means that they have now been allotted from the slot pool.
This does not change anything for Vistara operationally. The airline which currently operates seven flights a week, will continue to have as many flights. But these will be on own slots without a botheration of slots being temporary and the worry for the next season! The India – UK bilateral restricts flights between India and London Heathrow at 56 frequencies per week.
There will be an article soon about the London Heathrow – India flights which is becoming interesting with entry of Air Canada on the London Heathrow – Mumbai route as part of the Toronto – Mumbai flight.