As Virgin gets closer to the Indian market Richard Branson is also said to be close to ‘closing’ a new deal with the airline alliance. If Branson is able to get more Heathrow slots he has pledged to offer more Indian destinations than just Mumbai to Virgin travellers.
Sir Richard Branson announced that with the new Mumbai route Virgin is considering breaking its long standing record of working alone by joining up with an airline alliance. He plans to possibly expand his Indian routes to three more destinations within the country.
According to statements from Virgin, its investment in India will cost about £300m as the result of the two A330 aircraft that will now operate the Mumbai and Delhi routes. Branson also stated that he is taking a look at offering direct services out of Heathrow into Hyderabad, Goa, and Bangalore if he can win the slots, but noted that it did not look like it would be possible.
Branson explained that getting slots at the Heathrow airport is a hard task, but the company is going to start campaigning for them now with the hopes that they will be able to win them in the future. Part of the campaign will even be asking if another runway could be built on at Heathrow that Virgin could use.
In the meantime, Branson stated that the airline may look at offering flights to Goa out of either Manchester or Gatwick airports. It has been four years since Virgin has offered a route to Mumbai, and this time around will double its capacity by offering daily services to the two largest cities in India.
Every year about a million people fly between the UK and Mumbai and Branson stated that better slot times at Heathrow will allow passengers to link from Newark and JFK in the US helping to increase their viability.