SpiceJet Picks Up Heathrow Slots Despite Owning No Widebodies

SpiceJet has secured landing slots at London Heathrow Airport. The Haryana-based carrier will be able to use them from the start of September and they will fall under the travel bubble arrangement between India and the United Kingdom.

SpiceJet take-off in the UK
SpiceJet is targeting UK-based opportunities. Photo: Getty Images

A change of climate

According to FlightGlobal , these slots are effective until 23 October. However, the low-cost outfit is also in talks to secure slots for the winter.

Usually, London Heathrow slots are treated like treasure and can be hard to secure. Additionally, SpiceJet doesn’t typically focus on long-haul, European services. However, the global health crisis has rocked the aviation industry from top to bottom. So, there have been major shakeups in the market.

As a result of the pandemic, Indira Gandhi International Airport suspended all international flights until 31 August. These suspensions are also being extended regularly. Nonetheless, there are a handful of services that form part of travel bubbles. Operations such as repatriation flights have been well-publicized in India.

The airline did not confirm when it plans to start using its new slots. Regardless, with the UK’s significant Indian diaspora, and prominent business relations with the South Asian country, there will undoubtedly be several passengers looking to travel with the LCC on these services. Altogether, the daily slot is scheduled for a 15:30 arrival and 17:30 departure. 

Indian Airlines
Several Indian operators are looking at new long-haul openings amid the change of circumstances. Photo: Getty Images

Strengthening its position

SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Singh said that he is pleased and excited to share that SpiceJet has secured these slots. He is proud to serve direct flights from India to other key destinations across the globe.

“London is one of the busiest long-haul destinations from India and this is a huge milestone for SpiceJet. Providing non-stop connectivity from India to different parts of the world, which in turn strengthens our own airport hubs, is a dream that we have long cherished and this is a small step in that direction,” Singh said, as reported by FlightGlobal .

“The identical arrival/departure slots that we have secured at Heathrow should suit the convenience of our passengers perfectly.”

SpiceJet Getty
SpiceJet also recently secured the right to operate flights to the United States. Photo: Getty Images

New habits

Despite the significant milestone, the carrier does not own any widebody aircraft. It holds 88 Boeing 737 jets, but 13 of these are the grounded MAX variant. The company also holds 32 De Havilland Canada Dash 8s. However, a considerable amount of all the airline’s aircraft are currently parked due to the number of suspensions across India.

Nonetheless, last week, the company announced that it plans to lease a Hi Fly Airbus A330neo to bring back Indian nationals stranded in Europe. Operations to the likes of Amsterdam are part of this initiative. Therefore, the A33neo could also be part of the London motive.

Altogether, even though activity is minimal, SpiceJet is finding ways to adapt during the dire situation. We could see other short and medium-haul operators doing the same over the next few months.

Simple Flying reached out to SpiceJet about its plans but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further announcements.

What are your thoughts about SpiceJet picking up London Heathrow slots? Is this a good move for the airline? Let us know what you think in the comment section.