- Air India to become first Indian airline to operate at London’s Gatwick Airport
- Nearly 500 jobs likely to be created in the UK due to fleet expansion and new services
LONDON - Air India is expanding its UK presence in a move which reinforces the strong links between the UK and India, as it undergoes a massive modernisation programme to transform into a world-class, premium airline.
The Indian flag carrier is launching four new services from London Gatwick to Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Kochi and Goa, switching them from London Heathrow, and flying on each route three times a week.
Each of the four new services will be operated with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Flights to Ahmedabad and Amritsar started on Sunday, 26 March, with services to Kochi starting today (Monday, 27 March), and to Goa on Tuesday, 28 March.
From London Heathrow, Air India is adding five additional weekly frequencies, with flights to Delhi increasing from 14 to 17 times a week, and to Mumbai from 12 to 14 times a week, effective as of yesterday (Sunday, 26 March).
Air India also plans to upgauge the equipment on its London Heathrow to Delhi and Mumbai routes with Boeing 777 aircraft, expected to be added from May 2023, initially on the Delhi route. This will enable First Class service to be reinstated for passengers.
Campbell Wilson, Air India Managing Director & CEO, said: “We have ambitious yet focused plans to restore Air India to its rightful place as one of the world’s foremost carriers.
“Our substantial investment in customer service, new aircraft and the brand overall will enable us to gain market share on key routes from the UK to India as well as drive more business and leisure travellers to visit India itself.
“We are pleased to be launching services from London Gatwick as well as expanding our Heathrow operation, enabling our passengers to have even more choice on how they enter India.”
Air India also flies from Birmingham to Amritsar and Delhi three times a week on each route. In total, there are 49 Air India flights a week between the UK and India (please refer to the below appended table).
The flag carrier, which has 126 aircraft currently, has embarked upon a major transformation, having recently placed the largest-ever firm orders for a total of 470 aircraft with Airbus and Boeing, with deliveries starting later in 2023.
The orders for new aircraft are in addition to 36 narrow-body and wide-body aircraft that the airline had leased in late 2022, which are already being inducted into its fleet. The airline has also committed over USD 400 million in a project to fully refurbish its entire legacy wide-body fleet, comprising 27 Boeing 787-8 and 13 Boeing 777 aircraft, which will see a complete overhaul of existing cabin interiors.
This will include the addition of latest generation seats and best in-class inflight entertainment across all classes. In addition, the refurbishment will see the introduction of a Premium Economy cabin on both fleets.
As part of the firm orders for 470 new aircraft, Air India has selected 250 new Airbus aircraft, consisting of 40 A350s and 210 A320/A321neos, as well as 220 Boeing aircraft, consisting of 190 Boeing 737 MAX, 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, and 10 Boeing 777X.
The first six Airbus A350s are due to arrive by the end of 2023. The fleet order, and expansion at Gatwick, will see an expected 500 new jobs created in the UK due to Air India’s ambitious transformation.
The fleet order, and expansion of its network, signals the swift return of one of the most iconic carriers worldwide. Air India became part of the Tata Group in 2022. The transformation will include major changes to its brand, world-class customer service offerings on the ground and in the air, and more dynamic digital products.
For more details about Air India, visit airindia.com