Mired-by controversies related to unruly passengers, leading full-service carrier Air India has moving ahead with its ambitious network expansion plans after it announced the launch of 12 weekly flights to London Gatwick Airport and 5 additional services to London Heathrow Airport today.To Gatwick airport in London, the Tatas-owned airline will operate a thrice-a-week flight service from cities such as Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Goa and Kochi. This also makes Air India the only scheduled airline to offer direct services to UK’s second largest airport.
To the popular Heathrow airport in London, Air India will add five additional weekly frequencies with Delhi increasing from 14 to 17 times a week and Mumbai from 12 to 14 times a week.
Just like Heathrow airport, Gatwick also provides passengers with direct access to the UK’s motorway network which will facilitate the convenience of travel by car or coach to London and South-East England. Moreover, with 24×7 direct rail access from the South Terminal, passengers can reach Central London in less than half an hour, said the airline in the announcement.
“This is part of the airline’s ongoing endeavour to spread its wings on the international aviation map, hence, increasing its market share on international routes. The robust enhancement of operations is one of the major pillars of Vihaan.AI, Air India’s transformational roadmap,” the statement added.
After announcing merger of all its airlines into full-service (Air India and Vistara) and low-service carriers (Air India Express and AirAsia India, now termed as AIX Connect), the TATA Group is planning to go big on international expansion. According to sources, the Group is close to placing a mega-order of 500 aircraft, which include 100 widebody jets and 400 narrowbody jets.
After Air-India and Vistara’s merger, expected to close by end of this year, the expanded fleet will significantly help the airline increase its international operations and utilise the precious airport slots it holds around the world. The combined entity has a current fleet of 220 aircraft, cementing Air India’s position as the country’s largest international carrier and second largest in the domestic market after leader IndiGo.