Air India has officially announced today that it will be significantly increasing its presence in the London market by adding a third daily nonstop service from its primary Delhi hub into Heathrow effective 01NOV15.
The new flight will depart as AI 161 from DEL at 0215 arriving into LHR at 0630, departing LHR at 0845 (AI 162) arriving into DEL at 2245 using a B777-200LR on a daily basis.
It is unheard of in the airline industry to announce a new long haul nonstop frequency by just giving the market two weeks notice! To fill this new service, AI will be no doubt initiating massive seat sale promos for the month of NOV to not only India but also SE Asia which now connects nicely via DEL in both directions along with KTM. The timing for DEL-LHR AI 161 is excellent for high yielding premium traffic as well as onward trans-atlantic connections with STAR partners UA/AC. However the return sector from LHR to DEL will be a tough sell for a while as AI 162 connects to no onward destination via DEL!
AI needs to seriously look at a 4 weekly nonstop B788 operated service between Manchester and Delhi as the market from MAN to India is bigger than BHX and also offers better yield. This will allow the carrier to have an all round foot print across both the North and Southern UK market segments.