Jet Airways has chosen the flagship Bombay-London route to debut its new B777-300ERs. The privately-owned Indian carrier has ordered 10 of these planes and the first will be used between Mumbai and London Heathrow from May 23.
The occasion will be eagerly awaited by premium travellers as the new planes feature Jet Airways' new first and business class products.
Jet has installed spacious four across (1-2-1) seating in both first and business class. For its 32-seater business class cabin, Jet has adopted the 'herringbone' layout which is featured by Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand (ANZ).
The fully flat bed is 73 inches in length with 35 inches of shoulder and 33 inches of hip space. The TV screen is 15.4 inches in size.
Jet has never offered a first class before. So for its top cabin product, Jet has emulated the individual cabins featured by Emirates. First class will comprise eight suites each with 26 square feet of usable space and sliding doors which provide privacy.
The first class bed will be 83 inches long and the flat screen TV monitors will be 23 inches in size. Each first class suite will allow dining for two, multiple lighting options, variable lumbar support and an eight-point massage system.
Economy class passengers, as always, make do with a conventional layout, albeit with newly designed seats with footrests. The 274 economy seats will be disposed nine across (3-3-3) and this is a big step up from the capacity offered on the current flights turning Jet into a major player on this route.
None of this should come as a surprise. Chairman Noresh Goyal has told Business Traveller that he wants Jet Airways to be the Indian equivalent of Singapore Airlines. With these new products Chairman Goyal would seem to be realising his ambition.
The first B777 will operate to Heathrow daily as flight 9W118 leaving Mumbai at 1245 and arriving in London at 1755. It will return to Mumbai on busy overnight flight 9W117 departing Heathrow at 2125 and arriving in India at 1050.
Jet Airways currently uses two-class (business and economy) Airbus A340-300s on this route. These are currently leased from South African Airways and have a six across layout in business (2-2-2) and eight (2-4-2) in economy. For the time being the A340s will operate Jet's second daily Mumbai-London service and will also continue to operate the Delhi-London flights.
The arrival of the B777s will allow Jet to bring forward the launch of its Mumbai-Brussels-New York Newark service. We had reported (see Online News, March 21) that Jet would operate this route daily from October 28. But the carrier says flights will now start on August 5.
Timings are slightly changed with 9W228 departing Bombay at 0210 and arriving in Newark at 1200. Flight 9W227 returns at 2030 to reach Mumbai at 2355.
Jet has full traffic rights on all sectors so it will become a player on the Brussels-New York route which is currently served by Continental, American and Delta.
In other news, Jet is expected to sign a deal with Brussels airport next month to operate a mini hub. Jet is acquiring a 10-strong fleet of two-class Airbus A330-200s and these will feature on a new Delhi-Brussels-Toronto route to be launched later this year. The idea is that the New York (ex-Mumbai) and Toronto (ex-Delhi) flights will cross over in Brussels at the same time. This would allow passengers to switch destinations. For example, a passenger from Mumbai could change at Brussels for Toronto.
Details of the A330's business class aren't yet available. These planes will eventually be deployed on the Delhi-London route and on services from India to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Finally, Jet Airways says it expects to fly transpacific this winter. The B777s will be used to pioneer a new route from Mumbai to San Francisco with a stop in Shanghai. Traffic rights are not yet finalised although Jet would be hoping to carry passengers between Shanghai and San Francisco.
For more information go to jetairways.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter