Earlier we outlined how IndiGo received slots to operate flights to London Gatwick this summer. Jet Airways has also filed to operate additional flights to London this summer. Looks like one more airline is now joining the bandwagon.
Last year, SpiceJet was rumoured to place an order for widebody aircraft apart from IndiGo. But there was no further development on the buying. However, that did not stop SpiceJet from planning to go ahead with planning for take-off to London.
SpiceJet files for flights to London from Amritsar
SpiceJet may be planning to operate daily flights on the Amritsar – London Heathrow route. According to the slot filing, SpiceJet intended to operate a 267-seat Airbus A330-300 daily from March 31, 2019.
The schedule filed for is,
The timings are similar to what Air India filed for Amritsar – London Heathrow flights, but none of the airlines has approvals yet. If they got this going, SpiceJet would go head-to-head with Air India on this route. At the time, SG 61/62 are flight numbers for Ahmedabad-Muscat service.
SpiceJet on Delhi to London also?
SpiceJet may also be planning to operate daily flights on New Delhi – London Gatwick route, just like IndiGo’s push for Delhi – London Gatwick flights. Both the airlines are competing fiercely with each other.
According to the slot filing, SpiceJet is intending to operate a 267-seat Airbus A330-300 daily from May 30, 2019. The schedule requesting approval is,
As you can see, SpiceJet has managed to confirm slots only on Mondays and Wednesdays. Rest all slots are Waitlisted due to unavailability.
Air India operates a flight to London Heathrow (AI 161/162) with similar timings. Expect a night arrival at Delhi and a midnight departure from Delhi. Convenient timings for arrival in London.
If SpiceJet goes ahead with this eventually, IndiGo will get a taste of its own medicine. It will put pressure on IndiGo’s intended Delhi – London Gatwick launch as SpiceJet will operate a (currently non-existent) widebody aircraft on the route. A widebody aircraft is definitely more comfortable than a narrowbody aircraft, especially on a 9-hour+ flight. Spicejet is playing smart here.
Why did SpiceJet apply for Amritsar – London Heathrow and not Delhi-London Heathrow?
According to the bilateral treaty, Indian carriers are restricted to 56 weekly one-way flights on Delhi – London Heathrow and Mumbai – London Heathrow combined. That translates to 8 daily flights. Air India currently operates 3 daily flights on Delhi/Mumbai – London Heathrow route. Jet Airways, if they get confirmed slots for the second daily Delhi-London Heathrow flight, will then operate a total of 5 daily flights on Delhi/Mumbai- London Heathrow route bringing the total to 8 daily flights.
The seat restriction on Delhi/Mumbai-London Heathrow is 22,500 weekly seats one way. If Jet Airways gets confirmed slots for the launch of the new flight, it will be 22,151 weekly seat one-way which is within the limit.
There are no restrictions on Indian carriers to operate flights from any other Indian airport to the UK except Delhi and Mumbai to London Heathrow. Hence SpiceJet could have opted for Amritsar – London Heathrow instead of Delhi – London Heathrow. They may have also opted for a daily flight on Delhi – London Gatwick route because there are no restrictions in terms of bilaterals at the moment
Where are the A330-300s coming from?
Best guess, WOW Air. WOW Air returned two Airbus A330-300 back to lessors. They plan on returning the last A330-300 by January 2019 end after they close down Delhi-Reykjavík route. So a total of three Airbus A330-300 are currently waiting for new lessees. The earlier two A330-300 are less than 4 years old. The one currently in WOW air’s fleet is 8.9 years old. Etihad Airways is also storing their A330-300s. So there are definitely some second-hand A330-300 available in the market.
A 267- seat configuration hints at a big premium cabin. Will SpiceJet add a new variant of SpiceMax lie-flat business class seats? Will it be a 2-Class configuration or will there be a Premium Economy cabin also? Lots of questions there.
I don’t think SpiceJet will eventually operate the route because they only managed to get 2 slot pairs out of a total 14 slot pairs they applied for. There is far too much work involved here, and I don’t think they will add a new widebody aircraft just to operate 2x weekly flights.
But to think about the planning, Indian carriers sure seems to be making London the new battleground. Maybe the idea was to take control of the market before a certain newer airline takes delivery of a brand new widebody in 2019/2020 and start flights to London.
What do you think of SpiceJet’s London expansion plans?