SpiceJet is planning to start direct flights to London from New Delhi and Mumbai this winter. The airline will use a fleet of Airbus A330neos to make the long-haul flight to Heathrow. SpiceJet secured slots at Heathrow earlier this year and plans to start flights on December 4th.
Heathrow flights starting soon
SpiceJet made the news in July when it secured permission to start long-haul flights to the UK and US under travel bubble agreements. The airline picked up some Heathrow slots soon after and is now planning to start direct flights from India as part of its effort to become a major long-haul airline.
While the carrier did operate a handful of repatriation flights using wet lease provider Hi Fly’s A330neo, it never established regular flights to any destinations. Today the carrier announced that it will start London flights from December 4th from both Delhi and Mumbai.
While it is not confirmed yet, we can expect SpiceJet to wet lease the A330neo from Hi Fly once again. The airline recently also leased an A340 for cargo operations from Hi Fly. The plane seats 371 passengers, with 353 economy and 18 business class, in a comfortable layout.
The Delhi-London route will operate twice a week, while Mumbai-London will see one daily flight, according to the Times of India. SpiceJet has highlighted the convenient flight timings for the route, which will see flights arrive in London in the evening and return to India early in the morning, hoping to attract business and leisure travelers alike.
Flights will operate from Delhi to London on Friday and Sunday, departing at 13:00 and arriving at 17:30. From London to Delhi will fly on Monday and Friday, leaving at 19:30 and reaching Delhi at 07:45 the next day.
The Mumbai-London leg will operate on Monday, leaving at 12:45 and arriving at 17:30. The return leg will operate on Sunday, departing Heathrow at 19:45, arriving in Mumbai at 07:45 the next morning. All times are in local time.
Low-cost carrier with high fares
While SpiceJet has marketed itself as ‘India’s first low-cost carrier to start flights to London Heathrow,’ it’s fares are similar to full-service competitors. Under the promotional fares, a round-trip between Delhi or Mumbai to London will cost ₹53,555 ($732), while one-way fares are roughly half, according to the Times of India.
These fares are comparable to those on British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Air India. The listed carriers are all full-service airlines who offer daily flights and have a strong presence in the Indian market.
As a comparison, a round-trip from Delhi to London in December (Dec 5th to 11th) would cost ₹52,653 on Virgin Atlantic and Air India, which is actually cheaper than SpiceJet’s announced fare. Similar (and even lower) fares can be found on other dates and with other connecting airlines.
These high fares will more than likely pose a detriment to SpiceJet’s plans for the upcoming route. Without low costs, it’s unclear what SpiceJet’s strategy is on the highly competitive London route unless it adopts full-service elements.
London is a key market
London will see two new Indian carriers start flights this year, with Vistara already starting flights in August. SpiceJet will be the second carrier trying to capitalize on pent-up demand and fill the vacuum left by Jet Airways on the route. The UK is India’s most popular long-haul destination which explains the focus on this market.
While both carriers vary in their business model, they will inevitable compete for a piece of the market pie along with established players such as Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, and Air India. It is to be seen if either carrier can carve out a place in the market, but SpiceJet could struggle with its high fares.
Would you fly SpiceJet to London? Why or why not? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!