MUMBAI: Disinvestment-bound national carrier Air India is mulling launching a flight service to London Stansted from the country's financial capital, a senior airline official said.
Air India currently operates a flight to Stansted from Amritsar. It also has operations to London Heathrow from Mumbai. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are the two other airlines flying to London from Mumbai.
Air passenger traffic on Mumbai-London route has spiked 25 per cent in the last five years.
It is expected to go up by 27 per cent this fiscal following the resumption of services on the route by Virgin Atlantic in October, despite the grounding of Jet Airways which used to have three daily flights to London Heathrow from the city.
"There is a need for more traffic to London region. However, due to the slot constraint issues at the London Heathrow, we are not able to add new flights on the Mumbai-London route."
"There are options to go to London Stansted from Mumbai. We are evaluating this route," Air India Regional Director Ravi Bodade told reporters on Saturday during a media tour of the airline's various facilities, including its Maintenance, Repair and overhaul (MRO) facility and the iconic Air India Tower.
Air India at present has the right to operate 42 flights per week to London. Bodade said currently the airline is carrying out the route feasibility study such as the passenger traffic, aircraft type and frequency of operations, among others.
"We will take a decision on this issue very soon," he said, adding the route may commence operations within the winter schedule itself.
The winter schedule, which is effective from October 27, will last till March 28, 2020. He also said Air India may deploy its flagship Boeing 787 Dreamliner to operate the service on the route under consideration.
The bilateral flying rights between India and London restrict the number of flights to 56 from the two major cities -- Delhi and Mumbai.
However, the airlines are permitted to operate as many services as possible from other cities in India under the open skies policy.