After a four-year hiatus, Virgin Atlantic Cargo said it will resume daily service to the fast-growing cargo market of Mumbai from London Heathrow (LHR) in October of this year, following the temporary suspension of India’s Jet Airways operations.
With a first flight scheduled for Oct. 27, the U.K.-based Virgin Atlantic said the 787-9 aircraft will depart and arrive at LHR in the morning to align with connecting passenger and cargo flows to and from the United States and will arrive the next day at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International (BOM).
The Mumbai flight will operate using Virgin Atlantic’s 787-9 aircraft, providing up to 26 tonnes of cargo capacity. The carrier said the BOM flight will “complement the airline’s long-established route between London and Delhi.”
The new route was reestablished after Virgin Atlantic’s partnership with Mumbai-based Jet Airways fell through in April due to severe financial problems. “Until recently, we’ve been able to serve this important market through our partnership with Jet Airways, however, since Jet Airways has sadly suspended its operation, we now have an opportunity to provide alternative options for our customers and meet this demand,” said Juha Jarvinen, executive vice president of commercial operations at Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic, which has provided direct access to cargo markets in India for the last 19 years, saw its cargo revenues ex-India rise by 10% in 2018 as demand grew for the carrier’s daily flights to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (DEL), said Dominic Kennedy, managing director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo (pictured). “The Mumbai market is equally buoyant,” he said. “In the last four years, the overall market from Mumbai to the U.K. and U.S. has increased by more than 50% in revenue terms, alongside increases of 46% to India from both countries.”
The goal, Kennedy added, is to increase the carrier’s share of the pharmaceutical market, “one of the main types of shipments ex-Mumbai.”
Other Virgin Atlantic routes to be added this year include a flight from LHR to Tel Aviv, starting in September, along with a route to São Paulo in 2020, which will be the airline’s debut venture in South America.