LONDON – This week saw Air India unveil significant changes to its strategy out of its London network. Has this been a mixed bag post-announcement?
Effective from March 26 this year, 12 flights per week will be launched from Gatwick, with an additional five flights to Heathrow added.
Below is the scheduling from the airline:
It is key to note that this route network is subject to regulatory approval, but the airline remains confident enough that this will become a reality.
Schedule Represents Alterations, Rather than New Flights…
Critics of this announcement have been keen to point out that the flights announced today from Air India are not new but represent a shift in operations.
As mentioned by LiveFromALounge, it was argued that the shift to London Gatwick has been made due to a lack of slots available at Heathrow, which always runs at maximum capacity.
However, Air India stated that these routes announced are “part of the airline’s ongoing endeavor to spread its wings on the international aviation map, hence, increasing its market share on international routes.”
The airline also added that “the robust enhancement of operations is one of the major pillars of Vihaan.AI, Air India’s transformational roadmap”.
Is This An Attempt At Positive PR?
A question to be asked here is whether this route announcement is a result of Air India wanting to acquire some positive PR off the back of a very unstable week for the airline.
Earlier this month, Air India gave a disorderly traveler a 30-day ban for urinating on another passenger but was criticized for letting the passenger initially leave the plane with no consequences.
After that, it was revealed that there was a second urination incident, with the exact same sort of circumstances, which was brought to the attention of the Indian DGCA.
This resulted in a full statement having to be released by the Air India CEO & Managing Director Campbell Wilson, who addressed the issues and implemented improvements.
Has This Been A Mixed Bag for Air India?
It does appear that this announcement has produced somewhat of a mixed bag for Air India, especially with the urination incidents placing a stain on their reputation currently.
However, this is good news for London Gatwick, who will no doubt be pleased with the results of securing an international carrier like this for further connectivity globally.
Gatwick Airport’s CEO, Stewart Wingate, said the following on this:
“The arrival of Air India and its four routes to London Gatwick is fantastic news for the airport and passengers across London and the south-east.”
“India not only offers wonderful cities and beach destinations to explore but provides a wealth of opportunities for businesses and wider connectivity. These connections are also hugely important to our local and regional communities, with people looking to visit family and friends across India.”
It remains clear that Air India needed to make this change in strategy so then it can maintain its roots and operations out of both London airports.
With a more even spread, the airline will be able to secure catchment further south of Heathrow. With its connections within Birmingham, an overall capture of the market is beginning to come together.
Either way, this announcement does seem to have come out as a mixed bag amongst its audience, so it will be interesting to see how the changes will fare with Air India’s performance.