BEGINNING October 29, Virgin Atlantic is making a comeback to Mumbai with a daily flight to London, in anticipation of higher passenger traffic (See TTG Asia e-Daily, March 20).
The British airline currently flies seven times weekly to New Delhi, witnessing 20 per cent growth on the route in 2011 and carrying over a million passengers since 2009, when Virgin stopped operating in Mumbai due to the global financial crisis.
The Airbus A330-300, with the Upper Class Dreamsuite product that has 33 seats, will be deployed on Virgin’s Mumbai service.
The move comes six months after Kingfisher Airlines withdrew their Mumbai-London flights and postponed their affiliation to the British Airways-led oneworld alliance that would have allowed Virgin’s rival British Airways a greater reach into the Indian outbound market.
Arvind Tandon, managing director, Mumbai-based Faraway Places, said: “Increased seat capacity is always welcome in the Mumbai-London sector as there is a constant demand. Traffic to the UK has never ceased and now fliers will be facilitated by the connections Virgin will offer to the US.”
Steve Ridgway, CEO, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd, said: "We had to withdraw our service in 2009 due to the global economic slowdown, but we always said that if it was economically viable, we would come back. The time is now right, with the Mumbai-London market growing by nine per cent annually since 2009, and we are looking forward to starting our flights in October and serving the people of Mumbai and its neighbouring cities."