Fast-growing Jet Airways is gearing up for a major expansion of services to London this winter. At the same time the Indian carrier hopes to launch its first ever transatlantic flight, one linking Brussels with New York.
The new UK services are expected to get under way at the end of October. They will see a new route being opened between Delhi and Heathrow and the doubling of Jet Airways' flights between Mumbai and Heathrow.
Fares and schedules have yet to be announced but the current daily Mumbai-Heathrow service departs India at 13.20 (services on Monday and Thursday leave slightly earlier) to arrive in London at 17.40. The return flight departs Heathrow at 21.25 to reach Mumbai at 10.50 the next day. Connections are available at Mumbai to and from 40 domestic destinations.Other international services include links between Mumbai and Singapore along with Chennai to Kuala Lumpur.
Privately-owned Jet Airways, which started flying to London in May this year, is seeking to change the image of Indian airlines on the world stage. Rightly or wrongly, the latter haven't enjoyed the best reputation for service in recent years.
Chairman Naresh Goyal told Business Traveller, "Our crew and in-flight catering are multi-cultural. We want to challenge other Asian airlines for service and reputation. It's not rocket science to become the best carrier in Asia."
Current flights from Mumbai to Heathrow are operated by Airbus A340s with fully lie-flat seats in business class along with 73 inches of legroom. Services to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are handled by Boeing 737-800s with conventional business class seating providing 58 inches of legroom.The airline's business class checked baggage allowance is 40 kilos which is 10 kilos higher than the industry standard.
* The growth of flights to India (besides Jet Airways, services are now operated by Air India, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Bmi) and Shanghai (where British Airways has just joined Virgin Atlantic and China Eastern) contributed to an 11% growth in traffic handled by BAA airports during June.