Air India has operated its first-ever non-stop flight to London Gatwick (LGW), from Amritsar yesterday. In doing so, Air India becomes the first and only Indian airline to operate at Gatwick Airport – the second-largest airport in the UK.
Effective from today, the Indian carrier will operate the route thrice weekly from Amritsar with its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft.
The long haul widebody aircraft is equipped with 18 Business class seats featuring fully-flat beds and 238 Economy class seats.
In addition to the flights from Amritsar, Air India will also operate 9 other weekly flights scheduled from Ahmedabad, Goa, and Kochi—making it a total of 12 weekly flights to Gatwick.
In total, the airline now operates 49 flights in the UK per week— 43 flights to London (Heathrow and Gatwick) and six flights to Birmingham. Air India also operates 31 weekly flights to Heathrow, London from Delhi and Mumbai.
The honourable Minister of Civil Aviation, Shri Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, honourable Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, General (Retd) V.K. Singh, and BJP National Secretary, Punjab, Mr. Tarun Chugh attended the virtual inauguration ceremony of the Gatwick flight.
The delegates were present to flag the departing flight off along with Mr. Rajiv Bansal, Secretary, Civil Aviation, and Air India CEO & MD Campbell Wilson.
The honourable Minister of Civil Aviation, Shri Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, said, “It is a historic day for Amritsar and Punjab.”
“This new connection will bring a new impetus to the state and provide key connectivity with the UK, bringing people closer. This will also boost trade and tourism and open up new employment opportunities.”
Air India fleet acquisition plan
As part of the Tata Group of airline operators, Air India is presently undergoing merger proceedings as well as the fleet upgrade and acquisition programme.
Mr. Jyotiraditya M. Scindia further commended Air India for the fleet acquisition plan and expressed hope that Air India will soon connect all the continents to make India a global hub of aviation.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Campbell Wilson, CEO & MD, said, “As part of our five-year transformation plan, Vihaan.AI, we plan to significantly enhance connectivity between India’s major cities and prime global destinations and be acknowledged as India’s Flying Ambassador to the world.”
“These flights will also fulfil the growing demand for direct air connectivity from various important destinations in India to the UK and from the UK to these popular cities in India.”
The first flight AI 169 from Amritsar to Gatwick departed on time at 1320 hrs and arrived in Gatwick at 1755 hrs local time on the same day. Earlier, AI 170 had taken off from Gatwick at 2140 hrs to arrive in Amritsar at 1015 hrs (All Local Time).
Overall, Air India operates 80 flights per week to seven major cities in the UK and Europe and has relaunched flights to some of the prime European destinations such as Milan, Vienna, and Copenhagen.