India, UK likely to expand air services pact for Delhi & Mumbai to London Heathrow
India and United Kingdom (UK) are likely to finalise a new agreement which will allow airlines to deploy more flights between Delhi, Mumbai and London Heathrow airport.
This new agreement will increase the quota of flights between the two Indian cities to London from 56 to 70 per week.
The air service agreement between India and UK is structured differently with caps on flights based on destinations. According to an open sky agreement signed in 2017, there are no limits on flights between Indian cities except Bengaluru and Hyderabad where there is a capacity limit of 14 flights per week.
However, for flights between Delhi, Mumbai and Heathrow, there is a capacity limit of 56 flights per week which is being increased to 70.
While British Airways currently operate 54 flights per week connecting Mumbai and Delhi with London, Virgin Atlantic operates 42 flights per week.
Airport Coordination Limited, the agency that manages slots at UK airports, said that slot allocation process is independent of the bilateral agreement between countries.
“London Heathrow is historically full as the air traffic movement cap is fully allocated and due to the scarce nature, the number of slots that return to the pool for reallocation is extremely limited. Where slots are not available at London Heathrow, we encourage applications at other London airports and in recent years we have seen Indian airlines serving London Gatwick and London Stansted,” Richard Cann, Head of Coordination, Airport Coordination Limited said.