Virgin Atlantic is relaunching belly flights between London Heathrow and Mumbai (India) after a four-year hiatus with the first service set to start on 27 October.
The route will complement the airline’s long established route between London and Delhi. The Mumbai flights will be operated on Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft – providing up to 26 tonnes of cargo capacity.
Virgin Atlantic saw an opportunity to restart the route after the demise of Indian carrier Jet Airways last month, which flew the route.
The carrier said it continues to see increased demand for cargo and this route will offer new opportunities for companies looking to export and import goods between Mumbai and prime markets in the UK and US, as flights have been timed to meet its schedule to and from the US.
Virgin Atlantic executive vice president, Juha Jarvinen said: “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 Atlantic Cargo managing director, Dominic Kennedy said: “We have given our cargo customers direct access to the vibrant cargo market in India for 19 years and, in 2018, our cargo revenues ex India rose 10% as support grew for our daily Delhi flights.
“The Mumbai market is equally buoyant. In the last four years, the overall market from Mumbai to the UK and US has increased by more than 50% in revenue terms, alongside increases of 46% to India from both countries.
“When we resume Mumbai operations in October, we aim to win a strong share of this growing market, supported by our fast and easy connections over London to and from major cities across US and our enhanced capabilities for handling pharmaceuticals, one of the main types of shipments ex Mumbai. More capacity is great news for our import and export customers.”
The new Mumbai flights marks Virgin Atlantic’s 27 daily service from London Heathrow and its third new route announcement this year.
Flights to Tel Aviv, Israel are due to commence in September 2019, with flights to São Paulo, Brazil starting in 2020, marking the airline’s first venture into South America.