A second Indian carrier secures Heathrow slots for the first time

Aug 19, 2020

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Demand for air travel is at an all-time low owing to the coronavirus pandemic. As many airlines are tightening up by retiring aircraft and shrinking route networks, it’s a glimmer of hope when new routes are announced, especially bold moves like flying to Heathrow for the first time.

This time, it’s the turn of Indian full-service airline Vistara, which will make its debut flight from Delhi (DEL) to London Heathrow (LHR) next week, reports Executive Traveller. The airline, which only flew its first flight in January 2015, has set London (LHR) as the first of three proper long-haul destinations with the inaugural flight operated by its flagship 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft scheduled for 28 August.

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“Vistara is also seeking necessary regulatory approvals to soon operate similar special flights to Paris and Frankfurt”, a spokesperson told Executive Traveller.

The news comes hot on the heels of the announcement that Indian low-cost airline SpiceJet will also be touching down in Heathrow for the first time in September.

The Vistara route is currently scheduled to operate for just over a month until 30 September as part of the bilateral air bubble agreement between the U.K. and India. If the route is successful, it’s likely that it will become permanent given the airline’s bold plans to expand its international network and “position itself as a high-end alternative to national flag carrier Air India”, which shouldn’t be a problem given the reputation of Air India’s business class.

The flights will operate three times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

While the airline already operates international mid-haul routes to places like Singapore (SIN) and Bangkok (BKK), its route to Heathrow will be its first-ever true long-haul route operated by the 787-9. Passengers can expect a full-service experience in the aircraft’s three separate cabins. In business, there are 30 lie-flat seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Directly behind is a separate premium economy 2-3-2-configured cabin with 21 seats and following behind are 248 economy seats in the Dreamliner’s standard 3-3-3 layout.

The Delhi (DEL) to Heathrow (LHR) route is currently operated by three airlines: Air India, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic after the departure from the route of Jet Airways in 2019 when it ceased operations.

Featured image by Noah Seelam/Getty Images

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