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Inside Air India’s London Gatwick plans

Air India has announced that it will begin flying to London Gatwick Airport. This decision comes as the airline is prioritising London Heathrow operations for flights from just two Indian cities while also increasing nonstop flights to the London area.

London Gatwick launch

Starting 26th March 2023, Air India will operate three-flights-a-week to London Gatwick Airport from the following Indian airports:

  • Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport
  • Goa International Airport
  • Kochi International Airport
  • Amritsar’s Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport

The flights will operate with the following timings:

Photo: Air India

With this, Air India will be the only airline offering nonstop flights between India and London Gatwick, United Kingdom’s second largest airport.

Air India says that passengers’ convenience will not be impacted as Gatwick 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.

On the same day (26th March 2023), the airline will launch an additional 5-weekly flights to London Heathrow Airport – 3 from Delhi and 2 from Mumbai. As a result, flights from Delhi will increase from 14- to 17-weekly while flights from Mumbai will increase from 12- to 14-weekly flights.

London Heathrow flights will operate with the following schedule:

Photo: Air India

All of these flights will be operated by Boeing B787-8 Dreamliners featuring Business Class and Economy Class.

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London schedule secured

It is now clear that Air India wants to keep its London Heathrow slots just for the two most important Indian cities – Delhi and Mumbai. The Tata Group-owned has 31 pairs of slots at Heathrow out of which it will use 17 pairs for Delhi and 14 pairs for Mumbai.

It’s good on the part of Air India that it is not splitting operations between Heathrow and Gatwick for its Delhi and Mumbai flights but keeping them just at Heathrow by moving all the flights from other cities to Gatwick. This also helps in improving the passenger experience as the passengers will have a surety that their flight to/from Delhi and Mumbai will go to/from Heathrow only.

As part of its transformation plan ‘Vihaan.AI’, Air India is increasing trying to increase its international presence. First, it grew presence in San Francisco by introducing flights from Mumbai and resuming flights from Bengaluru. Then, it announced flights from Mumbai to New York JFK. Next, it unveiled that the European cities of Milan, Vienna and Copenhagen will once again receive Air India service. The airline will also operate flights from Mumbai to Frankfurt and Paris.

With the expanded London service, it seems that it wants to gain back the traffic it has lost to the Middle Eastern carriers in the last decade or so. Air India is surely making efforts to expand its international presence but until the inflight hard and soft products improve, the airline will have a tough time gaining the trust and loyalty of passengers. But the expansion is a step in the right direction as the airline is also in the process of improving passenger experience at all the touchpoints.

Meanwhile, Air India recently launched “FogCare” initiative to minimise flight disruptions due to fog.

Featured image by Wikimedia Commons

What do you think of Air India expanding its presence in London by launching Gatwick operations? Let me know in the comments section below.

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