*Update: 30/11/2019 @ 10:11am – London Stansted has replied that the route is not yet confirmed, so if you looking to buy a flight you might want to wait*
Air India has launched a new service from Mumbai to London Stansted, to further penetrate the lucrative United Kindom to India travel market.
What are the details?
Since we published the previous article about the possible new route, Air India has moved forward and greenlit a new non-stop route between London Stansted and Mumbai.
This move was probably in the works for some time (the airline has been vocal about finding new ways to increase capacity to London) and Air India has flight approval to put the tickets on sale.
When does this new service operate?
The new route between Mumbai and London Stansted will take flight on Feb 20th, 2020. There appears to be a flight leaving Mumbai on the 16th to London Stansted, however, it is unable to be booked (likely it is a press flight to welcome the new route).
Specifically, the outbound flights will be on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, leaving local time at 9:55 AM and arriving in London at 2:00 PM.
The return journey back home will depart on the same day; Monday, Thursday and Saturday. It leaves at 3.30 PM and arrives back in Mumbai the following morning at 5:50 AM.
The route will be operated both ways by an Air India Boeing 787-8, carrying 256 passengers (18 in business and 238 in economy).
Why is London Stansted a good choice?
There are a variety of reasons why the route to the London airport of Stansted is a good move for Air India.
- For one, it is cheaper than Heathrow and Gatwick. Stansted primarily operates low-cost carrier routes and is set up to cater to more budget-conscious airlines.
- Secondly, the airport has free and available slots with little competition. Gatwick and Heathrow are very difficult to get airline landing slot pairs, with the latter airport’s slot pairs going for millions of dollars.
- Air India already operates a route into London Heathrow, thus an additional service would simply be adding capacity & frequency and not having a point of difference against the competition.
Some commentators have criticized the move, saying that Stansted is too far from the center of London to be considered competitive to Heathrow or Gatwick (The former is 15 minutes by train and the later only 30 minutes compared to Stansted’s 47-minute commute) but others have argued that the Stansted option caters to a different market.
Stansted is located to the north-east of the capital and just south of the city of Cambridge. This puts it within proximity of several other major metropolitan areas populated heavily by passengers keen to fly to India. Thus, travelers who are not in the south no longer have to go right into London to fly onwards to India.
It remains to be seen how successful this route will be for Air India (and their current financial issues) but in the spirit of turning over a new leaf in 2020, we wish them all the best.
Update from London Stansted
Simple Flying reached out to London Stansted for a statement about the new route.
“Although we are talking to Air India about opportunities for the airline to grow its operation at London Stansted, there isn’t anything confirmed at this stage. If or when this changes, we will provide an update”
What do you think? Will you be flying the new route to Mumbai on Air India? Let us know in the comments.