Earlier last week, I had written about how private Indian carriers had bagged prestigious London Heathrow slots to operate relief flights from India to London and vice-versa. While SpiceJet intended to serve this sector with a wet-lease aircraft (not revealed yet), Vistara planned to operate the route with their brand new Boeing 787 aircraft, of which the airline has two in the fleet right now.
Now, Vistara has finally announced the launch of their long-haul operations, albeit in the tough times of the CoVid-19 pandemic. Vistara will operate special, non-stop flights between Delhi and London Heathrow from August 28 to September 30, 2020, marking its foray in international long-haul operations. The flights have been introduced as part of the air bubble formed between India and the UK.
During the period, Vistara will fly thrice a week between the two cities – on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Mr. Leslie Thng, Chief Executive Officer, Vistara, said, “As the world starts opening up in a phased manner following an extended global lockdown, these special flights give us the privilege of facilitating travel between the two countries. We are confident that travellers will appreciate having the choice of flying India’s only five-star airline to and from London, which also upholds the highest standards of safety and hygiene.”
The airline will deploy its brand-new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on the route to provide non-stop flights to travellers in both directions. Vistara is also seeking necessary regulatory approvals to soon operate similar special flights to Paris, France and Frankfurt, Germany.
From India to the United Kingdom:
- Indian nationals who are permitted to travel abroad as per the guidelines above and are destined for the UK.
- Stranded UK nationals/residents, foreign nationals transiting through UK or spouses of these persons, whether accompanying or otherwise
- Seamen of foreign nationalities; Seamen of Indian origin would be allowed subject to clearance from the Ministry of Shipping.
From the United Kingdom to India:
As per the Indian Government’s last notification issued on June 30, 2020, stranded Indian nationals are allowed to enter the country. Additionally, all Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) Cardholders are permitted to enter the country as well. The following categories of foreign nationals have also been allowed to come to India:
- Foreign business people who are coming to India on a Business Visa [other than on B-3 Visa for sports] in non-scheduled commercial/chartered flights.
- Foreign Healthcare professionals, health researchers, engineers and technicians for technical work at Indian health sector facilities, including laboratories and factories. This is subject to a letter of invitation from a recognized and registered healthcare facility, registered pharmaceutical company or accredited University in India.
- Foreign Engineering, Managerial, Design or other Specialists who are travelling to India on behalf of foreign business entities located in India. This includes all manufacturing units, design units, software and IT units as well as financial sector companies (banking and non-banking financial sector firms).
- Foreign Technical specialists and engineers travelling for installation, repair and maintenance of foreign-origin machinery and equipment facilities in India, on the invitation of a registered Indian business entity. These could be for equipment installation or is under warranty, or for after-sales servicing or repair on commercial terms.
- Foreign nationals covered shall have to obtain a fresh Business visa or Employment visa, as applicable, from the Indian Missions/ Posts abroad. Foreign nationals holding a valid long term multiple entry Business visas [other than B-3 visa for sports] issued by the Indian Missions/Posts abroad shall have to get the Business visa re-validated from the Indian Mission/Post concerned. Such foreign nationals will not be permitted to travel to India on the strength of any electronic visa obtained earlier.
How much would it cost?
The one-way fares from Delhi to London start from INR 29,912 in Economy Class, INR 44,449 in Premium Economy, and INR 77,373 in Business Class. Bookings for these flights are progressively opened on all channels, including Vistara’s website, mobile app, and through travel agents such as MakeMyTrip.
Vistara has a superior product as compared to Air India on this route any day. However, Vistara will have to compete with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic who will also be operating on this route. However, it is excellent news anyways for Vistara and its patrons, given how the airline is at least getting a toe-hold into the London Heathrow market and should be able to build upon its presence there after getting started with operations.
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