By: Chandrashekar Bhat
Air India has launched four new services from London’s Gatwick airport as it has embarked on a major expansion.
The latest service started by the Tata Group-owned airline on Tuesday (28) connects the British capital with Goa, one of India’s top tourist destinations. Three other services it launched since Sunday (26) link London to Ahmedabad, Amritsar and Kochi.
It is for the first time an Indian aviation company has begun flight services from Gatwick where nearly 500 new jobs will be created.
With the new services – run with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner – the number of flights operated by the company between India and the UK has gone up to 49 a week as it has scaled up the frequencies of other services.
It has increased the number of its flights from London Heathrow to Delhi from 14 to 17 a week and to Mumbai from 12 to 14 times a week.
Air India also flies from Birmingham to Delhi and Amritsar three times a week on each route.
The flag carrier, taken over by Tata from the Indian government last year, currently has 126 aircraft. But it began a major transformation by placing the largest-ever firm orders for a total of 470 aircraft with Airbus and Boeing. Deliveries of the new jets will begin later this year.
The orders for new aircraft are in addition to 36 narrow-body and wide-body aircraft that the airline leased in late 2022, which are being inducted into its fleet.
Air India managing director and CEO Campbell Wilson said the company’s substantial investment in customer service, new aircraft and the brand overall will enable it to gain market share on key routes between the UK and India. It would also “drive more business and leisure travellers to visit India itself”, he said.
Air India which had been incurring losses while being run by the government, is likely to post a consolidated operating profit this fiscal year, according to a Times of India report.