Virgin Atlantic is to return to Mumbai for the third time with the relaunch of flights from London Heathrow from Sunday 27 October 2019.
Virgin Atlantic and Mumbai has a long history.
Virgin first launched flights from London Heathrow to Mumbai following the liberalisation of services between the UK and India in 2005. This saw a number of airlines, such as bmi British Midland, enter the market and the route was suspended.
The route was launched again in 2012 with different timings in the hope of capturing connecting traffic to Virgin’s North America route network. It was suspended for a second time in 2015 as part of a wide-ranging reshaping of Virgin’s route network towards North American routes.
Since then, Virgin had relied on a codeshare with Jet Airways to serve Mumbai, and following its recent collapse Virgin has now reinstated the route.
This, together with the launch of Tel Aviv and Sao Paulo, does point to Virgin seeking to move beyond North American routes at London Heathrow. What may work in Virgin’s favour this time is a potential future codeshare partnership with Air France and KLM.
Flights will be operated with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft and will go on sale at Virgin Atlantic from Tuesday 28 May 2019.
London Heathrow – Mumbai
Depart London Heathrow 10:15 – Arrive Mumbai 00:40 Depart Mumbai 02:55 – Arrive London Heathrow 07:35
Following the cancellation of Jet Airways’ flights from London Heathrow to Mumbai and New Delhi since Friday 12 April 2019, Jet Airways has now removed these routes from sale permanently.
These routes had been removed from sale until Friday 26 April 2019. However, this has now been extended indefinitely.
At present Jet Airways is only operating a very limited number of domestic flights. At most only a handful of Jet Airways flights are operating at any one time.
Jet Airways’ three daily London Heathrow slot pairs were leased from Etihad which took back the slots on Friday.
Taking account of these developments, short of a near miraculous injection of capital from a new investor, there is no reasonable prospect of Jet Airways returning to London Heathrow.
Jet Airways’ route to Mumbai was codeshared with Virgin Atlantic who also codeshared with the airline on a number of domestic routes in India. This does leave Virgin Atlantic without a codeshare partner in India. Virgin has mooted a return to Mumbai, a route it has previously suspended twice.
Virgin Atlantic is offering passengers who have booked codeshare flights on Jet Airways through Virgin a full refund, or the opportunity to rebook or reroute. Full details are on the Virgin Atlantic website.
Update: Jet Airways has now put flights from London Heathrow to Mumbai and New Delhi back on sale from Friday 26 April 2019. However, it remains far from certain that they will actually operate.
Update 2: Jet Airways has published a full list of cancellations. It states that its London routes are cancelled until Thursday 18 April 2019. However, again, it remains far from certain that they will actually operate.
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British Airways has put in place blanket cancellations from London Heathrow to Mumbai and New Delhi from April to June 2019.
BA143 from London Heathrow to New Delhi is cancelled from Sunday 31 March to Monday 15 April 2019.
BA142 from New Delhi to London Heathrow is cancelled from Monday 1 April to Tuesday 16 April 2019.
BA139 from London Heathrow to Mumbai is cancelled from Friday 14 June to Sunday 30 June 2019.
BA138 from Mumbai to London Heathrow is cancelled from Saturday 15 June to Monday 1 July 2019.
No specific reason has been given for the cancellation other than “operational reasons”. It is likely that aircraft availability due to ongoing maintenance issues with the Boeing 787 fleet is the cause.
Passengers whose flights have been cancelled are entitled to a full refund. Passengers should also be able to rebooked on alternative BA flights between London Heathrow and Mumbai (BA199/BA198) and New Delhi (BA257/BA256).
Affected passengers can check the status of their booking on ba.com and should contact BA or their travel agent.
Virgin Atlantic has announced a significant over-haul of its network, suspending a number of non-US routes. Mumbai & Tokyo are suspended from 31 January 2015. Seasonal flights to Vancouver & Cape Town are suspended from 11 October 2014 and 26 April 2015.