The Air France/KLM/Virgin Atlantic/Delta team used to have Jet Airways as their extension into India, given these airlines did not, sort of crack the Indian market before by themselves. Delta withdrew out of the Mumbai to North American via Amsterdam flight. After Jet Airways’ move to Amsterdam, Jet Airways’ flights to Amsterdam, Paris CDG and London Heathrow started to connect into the Delta/Virgin Atlantic and KLM/Air France banks of flights to the USA and other North American destinations given new commercial joint ventures begun to emerge. And then, Jet Airways perished.
Since then, Virgin Atlantic, KLM, Air France have worked hard to restore capacity into various Indian airports. Here are some of the moves that they made in the light of Jet Airways going away
- Air France to operate A330s with new cabins to Bengaluru and Delhi
- KLM to add 3x weekly Bangalore – Amsterdam flights
- KLM Mumbai to Amsterdam flight to go daily from October 2019
- Delta launching direct flights between Mumbai and New York JFK
- Virgin Atlantic to re-launch a flight between Mumbai and London Heathrow
- Virgin Atlantic to launch a second flight between Delhi and London Heathrow
Now, Air France has announced the launch of flights between Chennai and Paris, making Chennai the fourth destination for the airline in India after Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. To be launched on June 14, 2020, Air France will operate a Boeing 787-9 to Chennai three times a week. Back in 2009, Air France used to service Chennai four times a week with an A340-300 aircraft. Jet Airways used to operate five flights a week to Paris from Chennai. Here are the timings of the new flight.
AF108 CDG1010 – 2330MAA 789 247
AF107 MAA0105 – 0800CDG 789 135
As if in a syncronised action, Virgin Atlantic, which is also a member of the same cohort of Virgin Atlantic/ KLM/ Air France/ Delta transatlantic joint venture also announced flights on the same day. Virgin Atlantic has decided to launch flights between Manchester and New Delhi from October 2020 onwards. The new flights, which will initially operate for three times a week will begin on October 26, 2020, with the launch of the winter schedule. Virgin Atlantic will press into service an A330-200 aircraft for this flight. The timings of this new flight will be:
VS318 MAN1640 – 0605(+1)DEL 332 146
VS319 DEL0810 – 1210MAN 332 257
Bookings for this flight will be open from March 3, 2020, onwards.
Jet Airways last launched Manchester flights, but Jet used to operate the Mumbai – Manchester route, which was one of the first casualties of their financial troubles. Manchester Airport has since been courting Indian airlines to launch flights to Manchester. Virgin Atlantic has decided to launch flights from Delhi instead of Mumbai, indicating its independent thinking rather than copying an established route. Virgin Atlantic’s new flight will be able to offer connections to New York on the network of VS. IndiGo was also interested in providing a widebody on this route, but then IndiGo has still not figured out its long haul international plans.
This is an exciting move from this consortium, which is coming back strong at Star Alliance carriers Lufthansa Group and others who have been prominently placed in India for a long while, and the Middle-Eastern carriers, who have been angling for more bilaterals from India, but not getting any success from the Indian side.
This is massive news for Indian customers, who have been suffering from a temporary setback since April 2019 after a huge amount of international capacity fell through from India.