Budget carrier SpiceJet has said it has secured slots at the London Heathrow Airport, which will allow the airline to commence flight services to the UK from next month. These slots, under the air bubble pact, will later be extended to operate regular flight services once international flight services are resumed, SpiceJet said in a regulatory filing in a report by a news agency.
An air bubble is a bilateral arrangement with a set of regulations and restrictions in which the carriers of the two countries can operate international flights.
“SpiceJet has secured slots at London Heathrow Airport to operate flights effective September 1. This is presently under the bubble arrangement between India and UK and effective up to end of summer schedule, which is October 23,” the airline said in the filing. The same shall be extended on the resumption of regular operations, it added.
All international commercial air passenger services in India are suspended since March 22, in the wake of travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, various evacuation and charter flights are being currently operated to fly back stranded Indians in various countries and also transport foreign nationals, who are stuck in India, to their countries.
SpiceJet, in the filing on Tuesday, also said that it is in “advance discussion to secure slots for the winter schedule for regular operations.”
The winter schedule of airlines in India commences from the last Saturday of October and lasts up to the last week of March every year.
“London is one of the busiest long-haul destinations from India and this is a huge milestone for SpiceJet. Providing non-stop connectivity from India to different parts of the world, which in turn strengthens our own airport hubs, is a dream that we have long cherished and this is a small step in that direction,” SpiceJet Chairman & Managing Director Ajay Singh said.
Singh further said “the identical arrival/departure slots that we have secured at Heathrow should suit the convenience of our passengers perfectly”.
On July 24, the budget carrier had announced that it was designated as “Indian scheduled carrier” to operate flight services to the UK from India.
Currently, government-run Air India is the only domestic airline flying between India and the UK.
It has also been allowed to operate flight services to the US under the air bubble pact.
SpiceJet had been planning to operate to London since the summer of 2019 when it applied for slots to connect Amritsar-London flights.
However, after it failed to get them, the budget carrier took another attempt in August for slots at London Heathrow and Manchester after the grounding of Jet Airways in April. But it could not succeed.