Virgin Atlantic Relaunches Mumbai Flights

Virgin Atlantic will be launching flights to the Indian city of Mumbai from October this year. The daily service will operate on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, with three classes of service to choose from.

Virgin atlantic dreamliner
Virgin Atlantic will operate a 787-9 Dreamliner to Mumbai from October. Photo: Wikimedia

Virgin Atlantic’s extraordinary expansion just keeps forging ahead. Amid the arrival of new planes, new airline acquisitions and five existing route announcements, the airline has today announced a revival of their service between London and Mumbai. Commencing in October this year, the new daily service will double their capacity to India from the UK.

Juha Jarvinen, Executive Vice President, Commercial, at Virgin Atlantic, commented in a press release:

“2019 marks a significant period of growth for Virgin Atlantic and I’m delighted that we’re continuing to expand our route network once more, by returning to Mumbai. Until recently we’ve been able to serve this important market through our partnership with Jet Airways, however, since Jet Airways has sadly suspended its operation, we now have an opportunity to provide alternative options for our customers and meet this demand.”

Virgin previously flew to Mumbai but stopped the route four years ago. Until now, they’ve only flown to New Delhi. In the past, their codeshare agreement with Jet Airways ensured a global continuity of service, but since they stopped flying last month, this partnership has ceased.

What can we expect from Virgin Atlantic’s Mumbai flights?

Virgin Atlantic LHR to BOM
Virgin Atlantic LHR to BOM. Image: GCMap

The flights to Mumbai will launch on October 27th, with sales opening for bookings from the 28th May. The journey is around 4,500 miles and should take just short of nine hours eastwards and just over 10 hours westwards.

The schedule, as it stands, is:

  • London to Mumbai: Departs 10:15, arrives 00:40 (+1 day)
  • Mumbai to London: Departs 02:55, arrives 07:35

The service will be operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, with three cabins on board: Upper Class, Premium Economy and Economy.

Virgin’s amazing expansion

Virgin Atlantic are undergoing something of a revolution, under the ambitious command of new CEO Shai Weiss. Despite reporting a $34m loss in 2018, this was actually a big improvement on 2017, and a sign that the airline is moving in the right direction.

Having already bought out Flybe, the UK based carrier is making a play for the long haul arm of Thomas Cook’s airline too. And then there’s the rumors that they want to buy LIAT, although the Caribbean airline’s owners deny such claims.

Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic are undergoing massive changes. Photo: Tomas del Coro via Flickr

They’ve made it clear that they want more slots at Heathrow, as they strive to offer genuine competition to the likes of BA. They are also investing in Manchester airport, with a plan to increase their capacity from the northern English airport by 20% this year.

Added to all this, there’s the forthcoming arrival of their A350, complete with new cabin products, and the other new routes they have in the pipeline. Tel Aviv will be served by Virgin from September, and Boston, New York and Sao Paulo from 2020.

Stiff competition

Virgin aren’t the only airline eyeing up the lost capacity left by Jet Airways. Flight Global reports that Jet Airways used to account for 55% of the passenger traffic between London and Mumbai, leaving a large gap to be filled.

UK flag carrier, British Airways, have already started to make a move on Mumbai. From June 2nd, they’ll be adding another four weekly services from their hub at Heathrow, using their 787-9 Dreamliners to service the route. But it’s not just Mumbai that BA have their eye on.

BA 787-9
British Airways are adding capacity. Photo: BA

The carrier also recently announced that they’ll be operating flights to India using their new A350 with the hotly anticipated new Club World suite. This will add capacity on the London to Bangalore route, to the tune of 123 extra seats per flight. Although it’s not starting until January 1st, 2020, it’s certainly something for UK to India passengers to look forward to.

Days after Jet Airways stopped operating, Air France-KLM added capacity to Mumbai and Bangalore, in a bid to bail out passengers left stranded by the demise of Jet.

Delta are launching flights to Mumbai later in the year. Photo. Delta

In the other direction, Delta are launching new direct flights from JFK to Mumbai from December onwards. United have added New Delhi as a destination from San Francisco, and have upgraded capacity by putting a 777-300ER on another of their Indian routes. Reportedly, American Airlines are also looking at launching direct flights, potentially from Philadelphia or Dallas to the south of India.

Even on their home turf, other airlines have been added routes and capacity hand over fist. Most notably, Air India have demanded to take over the lease of five Boeing 777s previously operated by Jet. They want to add five new routes to their schedule, including London, Dubai and Singapore from both New Delhi and Mumbai.