Air India blocks Jet Airways’ bid to add London flights

Air India (AI, Mumbai Int’l) has successfully blocked the attempt by its local rival Jet Airways (9W, Mumbai Int’l) to launch more flights to London Heathrow using the currently unused traffic rights allocated to the flag carrier, a daily has reported.

Jet Airways, which already operates three daily round-trips between Mumbai Int’l and Heathrow, was seeking to add a further seven weekly rotations. The privately owned carrier was seeking permission to utilise the traffic rights granted to Air India. It has already reportedly secured slots at Heathrow for the additional flights in a deal with its close commercial partner KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

However, Air India has argued that it will shortly use all traffic rights after it completes restructuring. In addition, the flag carrier has said that the application filed by its local rival did not take into account Air India’s services out of Ahmedabad.

Air India has traffic rights for 28 weekly services to Heathrow. According to the ch-aviation capacity module, it currently flies to the British gateway 25x weekly, including 14 flights out of Delhi Int’l, 7 out of Mumbai Int’l, and 4 out of Ahmedabad.

“The aviation ministry wrote to us about this and asked for our views. We have shared our restructuring plan with the ministry and reasoned why our rights cannot be given to another carrier. We are going to start more flights from Mumbai to London and then we would be using all our slots,” an unnamed Air India executive has said.

Besides the two Indian carriers, London Heathrow sees 49 weekly flights to India operated by British Airways (including services to each of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore Int’l, Chennai, and Hyderabad Int’l), as well as seven flights operated by Virgin Atlantic to Delhi.

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