(Bloomberg) — SpiceJet Ltd., India’s second-biggest airline, will start regular flights to London from Delhi and Mumbai, a move it has long been pursuing.
The no-frills airline will fly Airbus SE A330-900 neo aircraft on the routes, Chairman Ajay Singh said in an online briefing with reporters Monday. The flights will start from Dec. 4 and there will be two a week from Delhi and one from Mumbai, according to a company statement. The aircraft will have 353 seats in economy class and 18 in business.
SpiceJet said in August it was awarded slots at London’s Heathrow airport, one of the most lucrative destinations for airlines, under an air bubble agreement between India and the U.K. It had initially secured the slots from Sept. 1 to Oct. 23, but Heathrow extended them for the entire winter schedule.
“This is a huge milestone for us and I am proud of the fact that SpiceJet will be the first Indian low-cost airline to operate non-stop long-haul flights to the U.K.,” Singh said in the statement.
Return fares start at 53,555 rupees ($730), according to the statement.
SpiceJet will be up against full service operators Emirates and Etihad Airways PJSC, which dominate westbound travel from India via their hubs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Vistara, the Indian affiliate of Singapore Airlines Ltd., started flying to London in August with three cabin classes and free Wi-Fi on board.
The carrier previously said it was looking at Boeing Co.’s 787-10 Dreamliner and Airbus’s A350-1000 to enter the long-haul, discount market. Bigger Indian rival IndiGo, operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., is evaluating intercontinental flights with larger jets.
SpiceJet, a major customer for Boeing’s now-grounded 737 Max plane, was temporarily grounded in 2014 after it ran out of cash. It made a comeback under co-founder Ajay Singh, who returned to the company in 2015. He has cut loss-making routes, renegotiated contracts with vendors, expanded to smaller airports and built new business units to cut risk.
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