SpiceJet has been planning its flights to London since this summer, with the first flight scheduled for December 4th. However, the second lockdown in the UK has forced the low- cost carrier to delay its plans indefinitely. Let’s find out what is the latest with SpiceJet’s plans to fly to London.
Three weeks before the first flight was set to take off from Delhi, bound for London, SpiceJet has announced that the route has been delayed. In a statement to the Times of India, a SpiceJet spokesperson said,
“In view of the prevailing conditions in the United Kingdom, SpiceJet has decided to postpone the launch of its seasonal flights to London, which were scheduled under the India-UK air bubble agreement. Passengers booked on our flights can opt for a full refund or will be provided a transfer on another airline by SpiceJet at no additional cost.”
The decision to delay the service comes a few weeks after the UK announced a nationwide lockdown from November 5th to December 2nd. The lockdown prohibits “overnight stays and holidays away from primary residences,” which including holidays abroad. In light of these restrictions, SpiceJet has opted to delay its service.
As expected, passengers can either request a refund or to be rebooked onto flights with other carriers. With more restrictions being added globally, opting for a refund might be the better choice for now.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
What did SpiceJet have planned?
Before the delay, SpiceJet planned on starting flights from Delhi and Mumbai to London Heathrow. The sudden drop in capacity this year allowed the airline to pick up slots pairs at the once tightly-controlled Heathrow airport. Delhi-London would have operated twice a week while Mumbai-London once a week.
SpiceJet is an Indian low-cost carrier operating a fleet of Boeing 737s and Bombardier Q400s. To fly the London service, the airline has wet-leased Portuguese operator Hi Fly’s A330-900neo, which has the range for long-haul flights.
While SpiceJet is known for its low-cost operations, its prices on the London route were notably high. In some cases, tickets costed the same as, if not more, than traditional full-service carriers like Virgin Atlantic and Air India. With the flights now delayed, it is to be seen how many passengers the airline can attract.
The UK’s second lockdown has heavily impacted airlines in Europe and around the world. European carriers such as easyJet and KLM fly minimal services out of the country, only keeping essential air links open. However, Emirates has notably stepped up its UK services and deployed more A380s despite the lockdown.
Full-service Indian carrier Vistara has also scaled back its London service this month following the lockdown announcement. Vistara now flies thrice-weekly between Delhi and Heathrow, down from four weekly services and slowing plans for a daily service.
SpiceJet has not set a date for when, or even if, the route will begin operating. At the earliest, we can expect the first flight at some point until 2021. While airlines might be expanding to survive this crisis, COVID-19 continues to scuttle plans.
What do you think about SpiceJet’s long-haul plans? Would you fly with them? Let us know in the comments below!