Virgin Atlantic announced this week that it will be resuming flights to India from September under the air bubble arrangement between the UK and Indian governments. The airline will operate flights from London to Delhi and Mumbai, but visa restrictions may still apply.
Multiple flights to Delhi and Mumbai
Virgin Atlantic is set to return to India in September, with flights to Delhi and Mumbai. As part of the Indian government’s Vande Bharat Mission phase five, the country has set up a number of bilateral air bubble agreements with several countries.
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Under this new agreement, Virgin Atlantic will operate three flights a week between Delhi and London Heathrow, commencing on September 2nd. The airline will also operate four flights a week between London and Mumbai from September 17th. Both flights will connect to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and will operate on a 787-9 Dreamliner.
Due to current changes to operations at London Heathrow, Virgin Atlantic is temporarily operating from Terminal two.
Virgin Atlantic isn’t the only airline to announce flights to the UK. British Airways announced last week that it will be resuming relief flights to and from India from Augst 17th. The Indian carrier SpiceJet has also secured temporary slots under the air bubble pact and will operate flights to the UK from September.
After almost four months of limited international flights, India began to reopen its borders to select countries. So far, India has set up bilateral arrangements, or air bubbles, with seven countries; Canada, France, Germany, Maldives, UAE, UK, and the US.
While these air bubbles will allow travel between these countries to resume, there are some restrictions still in place. Entry into India is still restricted, and only Indian Nationals, Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders, and those with certain essential visas are allowed to enter the country.
For those wanting to leave India, there are fewer restrictions in place. India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation has confirmed that travelers holding all types of valid visas for Canada, UAE, UK, and the US are allowed to travel. This includes tourist, business, student, and transit visas.
It is unclear when India will open its borders fully and allow international travel to resume outside of these bilateral agreements.
Virgin Atlantic in trouble?
The return to India can only be good news for Virgin Atlantic, which like all airlines, had been hit hard by the collapse in air travel in recent times. Since January 1st, the airline’s reservations are down 89 % year-over-year.
The airline recently told a UK court that it was close to running out of money if its creditors did not approve a $2.2 billion rescue deal that was announced in July. The company also filed for chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the US. Chapter 15 bankruptcy allows foreign companies with US assets to protect themselves against claims while they work on a major restructuring plan.
According to the company’s lawyers, Virgin Atlantic is ‘financially sound.’ Still, it must go through a restructuring process to ensure the airline’s future as it will take some time for travel to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Will you be flying from India to the UK once flights start? Let us known in the comments.