Start-up carrier Hans Airways has moved a step closer to launching flights between the UK and India, with the lease of an A330-200 aircraft and the start of crew training.

As previously reported, the airline plans to launch flights between Birmingham airport and secondary Indian cities using an ex-Air Europa A330.

Aircraft registration MSN950 is currently undergoing maintenance checks with Etihad Engineering, ahead of proving flights and the obtaining of the carrier’s Air Operator’s Certificate.

A total of 12 newly recruited crew members are set to start their training in Birmingham and Manchester next week, with pilot training already completed.

Hans Airways is targeting a summer launch, with CEO and founder Satnam Saini “extremely encouraged that India re-opened to international scheduled flights last weekend”.

The carrier will offer a two-class service – economy (branded Anand Class) with 274 seats and a seat pitch of 31 inches, and premium economy (Anand Plus) with 24 seats and a seat pitch of 56 inches.

Updating the media on progress Barry Humphries, CBE, Hans Airways’ board director and former head of air services policy at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:

“With the loss of flights operated by India’s Jet Airways and British inclusive tour operators Thomas Cook and Monarch Airlines, there is room for a third UK airline flying between UK and India (complementing British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.) All of us are working exceptionally hard and on schedule to be that third UK designated carrier.”

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic both serve Delhi and Mumbai from London Heathrow, while BA also flies from Heathrow to Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad.

Virgin had been due to launch flights to Delhi and Mumbai from Manchester, but these were shelved following the onset of Covid-19.

Virgin Atlantic abandons plans for flights between Manchester and India

UK start-up carrier Flypop also plans to launch passenger flights from Stansted airport to secondary South Asian cities, with target destinations including Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Chennai, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Lucknow and Pune.