British Airways to increase London Heathrow flights to Delhi

British Airways has announced the addition of a new daily flight to its schedule between Delhi and London Heathrow, starting on April 20, 2025. This expansion will increase the airline’s total flights across India to 63 per week, covering five major cities.

Currently, British Airways operates 56 flights per week, including three daily flights from Mumbai, double daily flights from Delhi, and daily services from Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. The new flight will be serviced by the Boeing 787-8 aircraft, which offers Club World, World Traveller Plus, and World Traveller classes.

Neil Chernoff, British Airways’ Chief Planning and Strategy Officer, said: ‘This is a milestone year for us at British Airways as we celebrate 100 years of flying to India. I’m delighted to announce the addition of a third daily flight from the vibrant capital city of India, Delhi offering convenient travel choices from India to London Heathrow, and to our extensive worldwide network of more than 200 destinations.’

Moran Birger, Head of Sales Asia Pacific and Middle East at British Airways, said: ‘This significant historical year is a testament to our longstanding relationship with India, built over the last 100 years and reflecting our deep-rooted commitment to the country and its people. With an unwavering focus on customer satisfaction and convenience, we strive to set new standards and elevate the travel experience for all our customers. We eagerly anticipate welcoming passengers on board our new flights and continuing our legacy of excellence in the skies.’

India rises to 39th place on World Economic Forum’s tourist destination index

India has ascended to 39th spot on the World Economic Forum Travel & Tourist Development Index 2024 as global tourist activities have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, according to an annual study released recently.

Ranked highest in South Asia and among lower-middle-income economies, India’s climb to the 39th position underscores its growing prominence in the global tourism landscape, despite the US topping the list. In the 2021 ranking, India held the 54th position; however, the index’s comparability to prior years was limited due to modifications made to its standards.

India’s impressive price competitiveness (18th), along with its competitive ground and port infrastructure (25th) and air transport infrastructure (26th), highlights its attractiveness to travellers, as revealed by the index, which was developed in partnership with the University of Surrey. The nation’s robust Natural (6th), Cultural (9th), and Non-Leisure (9th) Resources further enhance its appeal for travellers, positioning India as one of only three countries to rank in the top 10 across all resource pillars, according to the WEF.

India continues to score highly for the sustainability of travel and tourism demand, albeit slightly lower than in 2019, largely attributed to incoming tourists’ longer and more sustainable stays.

India’s travel and tourism sector has faced challenges from global inflationary supply-side trends, resulting in a decline in price competitiveness and a slower recovery of air travel and tourist services infrastructure to 2019 levels. As a consequence, India’s total TTDI (Travel and Tourism Development Index) score is 2.1 percent lower than in 2019.

The index, led by high-income economies in Asia-Pacific and Europe, forecasts a return to pre-pandemic levels for international tourist arrivals and the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to global GDP this year, driven by the lifting of COVID-19-related travel restrictions and strong demand.

International visitor arrivals saw the fastest recovery in the Middle East (20 percent over 2019 levels), with recoveries of about 90 percent in 2023 for the Americas, Europe, and Africa.

Examining the travel and tourism industries of 119 countries using various criteria and regulations, the biennial index showcased US at number one, with the UK amongst the top 10.

British Airways and IndiGo arrange codeshare agreement to enhance UK-India connectivity

British Airways, the UK’s flagship carrier, and IndiGo, India’s premier airline, have formalised a codeshare partnership aimed at strengthening connections between the United Kingdom and India.

This codeshare accord will help British Airways customers connect to their final destination using a single ticket. In total, eight destinations will become accessible as codeshare alternatives for travellers journeying from London Heathrow via New Delhi or Mumbai. Notably, this includes three new destinations that were previously not available through British Airways:

* London Heathrow to Amritsar via New Delhi

* London Heathrow to Kochi via Mumbai

* London Heathrow to Ahmedabad via Mumbai

* London Heathrow to Goa via Mumbai

* London Heathrow to Thiruvananthapuram via Mumbai (NEW)

* London Heathrow to Kolkata via Mumbai

* London Heathrow to Rajkot (Hirasar) via Mumbai (NEW)

* London Heathrow to Vadodara via Mumbai (NEW)

IndiGo, known for its extensive domestic and regional network, operates with a fleet of A320 aircraft. All British Airways passengers traveling on IndiGo-operated codeshare flights to India will have complimentary meals and the UK carrier’s baggage allowance in economy class, which includes two checked bags weighing up to 23 kgs per person.

Neil Chernoff, British Airways’ Director of Network and Alliances, said: ‘British Airways has been flying to India since 1924, making it one of our longest-served and most valued destinations. Our partnership with IndiGo means that customers will be able to book their entire journey on one ticket, allowing seamless travel all the way from London to their final destination, offering more choice and flexibility for customers.’

Abhijit Dasgupta, Senior Vice President, Network Planning and Revenue Management at IndiGo, said, ‘We are excited to announce our codeshare agreement with British Airways. This partnership expands the choices available to British Airways customers for journeys to/from London Heathrow, using IndiGo’s extensive network in India.’

Passengers traveling between Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore can experience British Airways’ newly designed Club Suite (business class) cabin, featuring direct-aisle access, individual suite doors, and flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Codeshare flights are available for booking now, with travel commencing on October 12, 2023, pending governmental approval.

More London flights to Goa, India for the adventurous

London Gatwick has said that Air India will be launching four new routes to Goa, Ahmedabad, Amritsar and Kochi (Cochin), starting from March 26.

In addition, Air India has also announced five additional services to London Heathrow Airport. These new routes strengthen the established links between the UK – particularly London – and India.

The Indian airline will be operating 12 flights a week between London Gatwick and the four Indian destinations on 787-8 aircraft, with 256 seats across business and economy classes. These include:

* Three flights a week to Goa, on the western coast of India, famed for its beaches and Portuguese heritage

* Three flights a week to Ahmedabad, in western India, and the largest city in the state of Gujarat

* Three weekly flights to Amritsar, the second largest city in the state of Punjab in north-western India

* Three flights a week to Kochi (Cochin), a major port city on the south-western coast, known as the financial, commercial and industrial capital of Kerala

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, Gatwick Airport said: ‘The arrival of Air India and its four routes to London Gatwick is fantastic news for the airport and passengers across London and the south-east.

‘India not only offers wonderful cities and beach destinations to explore but provides a wealth of opportunities for businesses and wider connectivity. These connections are also hugely important to our local and regional communities, with people looking to visit family and friends across India.’

Tickets for these new flights are now on sale and can be booked via the Air India website.

To Heathrow, Air India will add 5 additional weekly frequencies with Delhi increasing from 14 to 17 times a week and Mumbai from 12 to 14 times a week.

Virgin Atlantic and IndiGo to offer seamless connections between UK and India with new codeshare

British carrier Virgin Atlantic and Indian airline IndiGo have entered into a new codeshare between the UK and India, offering seamless connections and enabling frequent flyers to earn more points.

Subject to approval, the codeshare flights will be available this week for booking for travel beyond September 27, 2022.

With the new codeshare, customers booking a Virgin Atlantic ticket will be able to fly on the airline’s London Heathrow to Delhi and Mumbai flights and connect to and from seven additional cities in India. Later this year the agreement will be expanded to cover a total of 16 destinations throughout India, as well as connections onto Virgin Atlantic’s extensive US network operated via London Heathrow.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, commented: ‘We’re thrilled to launch a new codeshare partnership with IndiGo. This summer marks our largest ever flying programme from India with three daily direct services to London and our new partnership takes our commitment to even greater heights. IndiGo is India’s largest airline and its extensive network will offer Virgin Atlantic customers even more choice when travelling between the UK and India, as well as offering seamless connections for the onward travel across our extensive US route network.’

The codeshare will allow Virgin Atlantic to sell seats to passengers connecting onto IndiGo flights. The initial codeshare destinations in India include Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Goa, Delhi and Mumbai. The additional destinations will include Kochi, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Pune, Coimbatore, Nagpur, Vadodara, Indore and Visakhapatnam.

‘It’s great news for our Flying Club too, by providing more opportunities for members to earn valuable points. This new partnership aims to respond to the large, fast-growing demand for visiting friends & relatives, leisure as well as business travellers looking for more choice between UK and India.’

Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer and Wholetime Director, IndiGo said: ‘We are pleased to announce our codeshare with Virgin Atlantic to provide enhanced connectivity to the passengers. This will not only help offer a seamless travel experience from London to as many as 16 destinations in India, but also open up international trade opportunities throughout the country via enhanced accessibility. We look forward to having Virgin Atlantic’s customers on our lean clean flying machine, as we extend our on-time, affordable, courteous and hassle-free travel experience.’

The codeshare will also allow Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club members to earn rewards faster, with opportunities to earn both Virgin Points and Tier Points available on every codeshare with IndiGo.

British Airways starts to trial Covid-19 document certification on ba.com

British Airways has said that customers eligible to travel to India will now be able to upload their negative Covid-19 test results and other travel declaration forms directly into their booking on the airline’s website ba.com, in advance of travel.

Running on all flights from London to India, the new trial is part of the airline’s efforts to simplify the departure process as it prepares for the return of international travel. The trial will certify that customers have the correct documentation needed for their flight before they arrive at the airport, allowing them to check-in online and avoid queuing in the terminal.

Customers will receive an email three days before the date of departure, directing them to the ‘Manage My Booking’ function on ba.com where they can find the relevant entry requirements, including a negative Covid-19 test result and a digital declaration form. The customer will then upload each document via ‘Manage My Booking’ which will be certified by the airline within six hours to ensure they meet the entry requirements.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, said: ‘At British Airways we are preparing for the meaningful return to international travel in the coming months. This means doing everything we can to simplify the journey for our customers, allowing them to travel with confidence and create the best possible seamless, frictionless experience in a new Covid era.

‘We know that innovation and technology hold the key to unlocking international travel. We are already offering access to travel app ‘VeriFLY’ on selected routes and IAG has been helping develop ‘Travel Pass’ with IATA. Now it’s also time to look at what we can offer through our own website. The key benefit of customers being able to upload the correct travel documentation into their booking, is that it enables them to check-in online, speeding up the airport process. We are continually exploring the best possible options to help our customers return to the skies, safely.’

British Airways is planning to roll this trial out to more destinations over the coming weeks and is also working to add this functionality for those destinations to its British Airways app. This will enable customers to securely upload the documentation for their booking directly from their mobile device. The required documentation is decided by the country of destination that a customer is travelling to, which could include negative Covid tests and / or vaccination information.

Digital health travel passport, VeriFLY, is currently available on the airline’s flights from the UK to the US and Canada, as well as all inbound flights to the UK. The app is optional for customers and can be downloaded to a mobile device. The app helps meet the entry requirements of their destination by providing digital health document verification and confirming eligibility.

British Airways to fly back thousands of British travellers stranded in India

British Airways will fly back thousands of British travellers stranded in India as a result of the Covid-19 crisis to the UK this week.

The airline is flying back thousands of travellers as part of 65 rescue flights that have either operated or are planned to operate in the coming days from destinations worldwide. The airline is also carrying hundreds of tonnes of essential supplies including medicines and personal protective equipment (PPE) to the UK through IAG Cargo. More flights from India to the UK will continue to operate this week. The repatriation effort has been collaboration between the UK and Indian Government authorities, British Airways and the airport teams in both Britain and India.

In India, the airline will serve 11 airports across the country with special flight departures over a period of two weeks. Flights are taking off from Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai, and the airline has also extended its operation to serve additional cities which include Goa, Amritsar, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: ‘It is an honour to support the government’s repatriation efforts and keep a small fleet of aircraft flying to bring stranded Britons back to the UK. When families step foot on board our aircraft and tell us how emotional it feels to be coming home, it reminds us why the job we are doing is still so important. We are hugely proud of our colleagues who continue to work with such dedication and commitment through this crisis to fly people and essential supplies across the world.’

The Foreign Office’s Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, said: ‘We know this is a difficult time for British travellers in India and we are pleased to have partnered with airlines, including British Airways, to get them home.

‘This is a huge and logistically-complex operation, and we are working tirelessly with the Indian Government and state authorities to help more British travellers get home.’

Any British national who may have not got confirmed travel back to the UK are advised to visit the India Travel Advice page (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india/return-to-the-uk) and use the city-specific webpages to register themselves, the airline said.

Air India commences new services to Mumbai from London Stansted

Air India has commenced its second long-haul route from London Stansted with the launch of its new three-times a week service to Mumbai, India.

The new Mumbai service is the first ever direct link from London Stansted to India’s largest city, which is considered the financial and entertainment capital of the country. The Indian airline launched its Amritsar route four months ago – a popular route with passengers from across London and the east of England.

Aboudy Nasser, London Stansted’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: ‘The launch of Air India’s new service to Mumbai is a fantastic addition to London Stansted’s route network and a real vote of confidence in the airport and the catchment area we serve coming less than four months after the airline joined us for its inaugural service to Amritsar.

‘Already 200,00 people travel to India’s economic hub from our region every year, so with the added convenience of flying from their local airport saving valuable time and money by avoiding other London airports, we expect this service to be very popular with passengers as we continue to build our successful and growing relationship with Air India at London Stansted.’

‘This is great news for me personally and for the team at o2h Ventures. Flying to Mumbai previously meant travelling from other UK airports but the new direct service from Stansted will save us several hours commuting time. Mumbai is rated amongst the top 10 centres for commerce and is known as the commercial capital of India so I’m confident the new route will help facilitate business opportunities for companies in both countries,’ said Sunil Shah CEO of o2h ventures, a leading investment firm based in Cambridge

The new Mumbai route will be served by a 256-seat Boeing 787 Dreamliner and will initially operate until the end of the winter flight schedule.

London Stansted Airport has further announced plans for new charging points for passengers’ electric vehicles and additional investment into facilities that support the airport’s public transport usage. Under the plan, up to 13 high-speed electric charging points will be installed at a new charging station on Thremhall Avenue later this year. The airport will also soon introduce charging points into its Meet and Greet car parks.

Virgin Atlantic announces new route from London to Mumbai

Virgin Atlantic has announced the launch of its new route from London Heathrow to Mumbai.

The new daily service linking the two cities will operate onboard the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with complimentary food and drink and over 300 hours of entertainment. Customers can also stay connected throughout their flight as all of the airline’s Dreamliners are fully Wi-Fi enabled.

Travellers will also be able to make connections between India and the US via London Heathrow. Together with partner Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic offers customers a choice of U.S. destinations. Co-located at Terminal Three, both airlines offer over 28 daily flights between London and the USA.

Juha Jarvinen, executive vice president of commercial at Virgin Atlantic, said: ‘2019 marks a significant period of growth for Virgin Atlantic and I’m delighted that we’re expanding our route network by returning to Mumbai.

‘Along with our long-standing route to Delhi, we are now able to provide travellers with an increased offering to the thriving Indian market and an opportunity to experience our award winning service between the UK and India. Together with our partners at Delta, we offer an excellent choice of connections to the USA via Heathrow Airport.’

Dave Hodges, commercial manager for India at Virgin Atlantic said: ‘We are really excited to now have a daily flight serving Mumbai-London. Amidst the festive season in India, it is a special time to start the flight and we are confident that Mumbai is going to love the best of Bollywood entertainment and the best Indian food onboard our state of the art 787-9 Dreamliner.’

Virgin Atlantic is expanding its offering and Mumbai is the third new route announcement this year – following on from Tel Aviv and Sao Paulo. The new routes are available to book at https://www.virginatlantic.com/ .

Air India resumes six direct weekly services to India from Birmingham airport

Air India has said that it has resumed its six weekly direct flight schedule to Delhi and Amritsar on August 15 – Indian Independence Day from Birmingham Airport, following a short period of reduced frequency due to airspace restrictions.

Direct services are available three times weekly to Delhi and onwards to Amritsar each Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, and three times weekly to Amritsar and onwards to Delhi each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. The flights are operated by Air India’s Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’, with 18 seats in the business class cabin and 238 in economy, and customers have access to a further 42 onward destination across the Indian-subcontinent via the airline’s Delhi hub. Flight tickets to either Delhi or Amritsar can be booked at http://www.airindia.in/.

Dr Aman Puri, the Consul General of India, Birmingham, commented: ‘The Midlands has emerged as an area of robust growth in the UK, and Birmingham is a city which is equipped with vast opportunities in both commerce and economic areas. To have direct flights operating out of Birmingham for the British-Indian community is just great and is a further step towards the UK and India collaborating to strengthen our trade and investment relationship further.’

Mr Debashis Golder, Regional Manager, Europe and UK for Air India, said: ‘The resumption of flights, coincides with India’s Independence Day making today a special day for multiple reasons. Air India is committed to not only support the region’s Indian diaspora, but also the need for direct connectivity for business travel in our business class product. Not only do we serve Delhi and Amritsar direct from Birmingham, Midlanders also have access 42 onward destination across the Indian-subcontinent via our hub in Delhi, including Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru.’

Nick Barton, CEO of Birmingham Airport said: ‘Air India provides the vital connectivity for business and leisure travellers needing direct access to two of India’s most important cultural cities. There is a strong demand in the Midlands to Delhi and Amritsar, particularly for those travelling to visit family and friends in the Punjab region which is why Air India’s Birmingham operation has grown from strength to strength. We’re therefore delighted that the full schedule has resumed today, on India Independence Day.’

Air India first began operating from Birmingham Airport in 2013, with direct flights to Delhi. The airline expanded its Birmingham operation in 2018 with non-stop services to Amritsar serving the Midlands. With the resumption of this six weekly schedule, there are 3,000 seats available between India and Birmingham each week on the non-stop flights, the airport said.