SpiceJet to fly to London from September
MUMBAI, Aug 4: After multiple failed attempts, low cost carrier SpiceJet will finally be operating flights to UK as it has secured slots to operate to London Heathrow from September.
Last year, the Gurugram-based airline had applied for slots to both Heathrow and Manchester for daily services, but couldn't secure a foothold in the then busy airports. But this year, with global airline air traffic drastically slashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian LCC's dreams have finally manifest.
However the passengers who board the airline's flight to London would find nothing onboard reminiscent of SpiceJet. To begin with, the SpiceJet cabin crew__ in their familiar red dress uniforms__ won't be operating this flight as the airline will be operating the UK and US routes with A330 aircraft, ``wet leased'' from Oman Air. That is, the crew, maintenance and insurance will all be provided by the lessor.
Currently, government-run Air India is the only Indian carrier flying between India and the UK. Commenting on the airline's London Heathrow slots, Ajay Singh, chairman and MD, SpiceJet said the slots will allow the airline to operate flights effective September 1, 2020. ``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. The identical arrival/departure slots that we have secured at Heathrow should suit the convenience of our passengers perfectly," Singh said.
Back home, the airline has been battling financial woes. Last week, due to non-payment of dues, low cost carrier SpiceJet was to be put on ``cash and carry'' by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). However the decision was deferred after the airline requested for time to work out the modalities for implementing the cash and carry regime.
Generally, airlines pays for facilities provided by AAI like route navigation, landing, parking etc on a monthly basis. Under cash and carry mode though an airline has to pay daily for the facilities used at an airport.
SpiceJet recently posted a pre tax loss of Rs 807 crore for the last quarter to FY 20, as against a profit of Rs 56.3 crore in the same quarter of the previous year. The airline blamed the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX (from March 2019) and COVID-19 pandemic which led to a nation-wide lockdown and suspension of flight operations from March 23. -TNN