Virgin announces daily flights to Mumbai and Delhi

Virgin Atlantic announced today
that it plans to operate at least a daily service between London and both
Delhi and Mumbai. This follows the successful conclusion today of
bilateral talks between the British and Indian governments to add to the
current air services agreement between the two countries. The talks have
resulted in an agreement for seven additional services between the UK and
India for the carriers of each country from winter 2004, an additional
seven services from summer 2005 and a further seven services from winter
2005. Virgin Atlantic currently flies between London and Delhi three times
a week.  Commenting on the talks Sir Richard Branson said:

    “Virgin Atlantic is delighted at the results of the air services
    talks—we have always dreamt of operating more frequent services
    to Delhi and to launch new services to Mumbai and this agreement
    will enable us to turn this into a reality by flying, in due
    course, a daily service to both Delhi and Mumbai followed by
    services to other cities in India.

    “As BA already operates 19 services to and from India (all of the
    UK’s current allocation) we would expect that Virgin Atlantic
    would be awarded the rights to operate the majority of these new
    services.

    “The agreement is great news for consumers. More frequencies will
    mean more competitive fares on the Heathrow - Delhi route and
    increased competition and service on the Mumbai route.

    “The demand for more flights is clear and for a long time India
    has needed the benefits that additional air services bring. Half
    of the people flying from London to Delhi and Mumbai each year
    are forced to do so via third countries. This can extend their
    journey times by up to five hours.

ADVERTISEMENT

    “India has well-established business links with Britain. It is an
    increasingly popular destination for British tourists and the
    family ties which bind our two countries together are as strong
    as ever.”

Virgin Atlantic currently flies three times a week between London Heathrow
and Delhi through a codeshare agreement with Air India which will come to
a natural end as Air India uses the new agreement to increase its own
frequencies and Virgin operates services in its own right. Virgin Atlantic
began flights in July 2000 and since then has carried almost 200,000
passengers.

The current air services agreement allows airlines from each country to
fly 19 services per week between the UK and India. British Airways
currently operates all of the UK’s allocation. Air India currently uses 11
of the frequencies allocated to India.

If there is over demand from British airlines to operate these new
services the Civil Aviation Authority will hold a scarce bilateral hearing
in order to decide the allocation. As British Airways already operate all
of the UK’s allocation of flights Virgin Atlantic is confident that CAA
will wish to encourage competition by awarding Virgin Atlantic the
majority of these new services.
——-