Vistara Launches Its Second London Heathrow Airport Route With The Boeing 787

There are now up to seven daily Mumbai-Heathrow flights this summer.

Vistara has revealed its next UK route: Mumbai to London Heathrow. Launching in two months – very little lead time – it’ll become the fourth airline on the 4,487-mile (7,221 km) airport pair this summer. When writing, it isn’t bookable this winter, presumably because of no slots (yet?). If that changes, it’ll be the fifth airline with up to eight daily flights between them.

Non-stop UK-India capacity has grown strongly recently. Vistara’s announcement comes soon after Air India increased Mumbai-Heathrow to double daily, a record high, and switched its secondary India routes to Gatwick to concentrate on more premium Delhi and Mumbai.

Vistara: Mumbai-Heathrow

Taking off on June 1st, Vistara’s new route is bookable but only during the summer. It briefly operated as part of the coronavirus-driven UK-India air bubble agreement, but this is a normal, regular operation.

Using its three-class, 299-seat Boeing 787-9sof which it now has four, it’ll run five weekly. It is scheduled as follows, with all times local. The inconsistent schedule is from Heathrow’s lack of slots:

  • Mumbai-Heathrow: UK15, 13:50-19:10 (Mon), 14:30-19:55 (Tue, Thu, Fri, Sun)
  • Heathrow-Mumbai: UK16, 20:55-10:15+1 (Mon), 21:55-11:00+1 (Fri, Sun), 22:05-11:00+1 (Tue, Thu)

Mumbai is Vistara’s second Heathrow route. It joins Delhi, which launched during the pandemic. It is served daily and arrives at Heathrow at 20:20 and leaves at 22:20. This means two of its 787s will simultaneously be on the ground in the UK.

A huge market

According to booking data, Heathrow-Mumbai had 529,000 roundtrip point-to-point (P2P) passengers in 2019, reduced to about 490,000 in 2022 for an obvious reason. Last year, it had about 671 passengers daily each way.

In 2019, Mumbai was Heathrow’s fourth-largest Asian market, behind Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Delhi. Obviously, it was pretty different in the pandemic-hit 2022. Mumbai ranked behind only Delhi; such were the restrictions elsewhere in Asia.

Perhaps surprisingly, more P2P passengers flew non-stop than transited via a hub. Partly because of price and a frequency less conducive to connections, Virgin Atlantic carried more Heathrow-Mumbai P2P passengers than any other carrier. It was followed by British Airways, Air India, Etihad (via Abu Dhabi), and Gulf Air (over Bahrain). Emirates (via Dubai) was sixth.

Air India, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Vistara will all operate this summer. Between them, they have up to seven daily flights, as follows. Note that equipment is based on what is scheduled, and some will only occasionally be used.

  • British Airways: up to triple daily 787-8, 787-9, 777-200ER
  • Air India: double daily 787-8
  • Virgin Atlantic: daily 787-9, A350-1000
  • Vistara: five weekly 787-9

What about this winter?

It is uncertain if Vistara will operate this winter. If it does, data as of March 31st shows that it would be the fifth non-stop operator with up to eight daily flights:

  • British Airways: triple daily 777-200ER, A350-1000, 787-9, 777-300ER
  • Air India: double daily 787-8
  • Air Canada: daily 787-9
  • Virgin Atlantic: daily A350-1000
  • Vistara: five weekly 787-9 (assuming it remains at that level)

What do you make of it all? Let us know in the comments.

With thanks to Sean Moulton for the heads-up on the announcement. As always, full analysis and commentary by me.

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