From Monday next week, the government is set to double the flights between India and the UK. This comes after complaints about high fares in the India-UK sector.
This move is expected to significantly bring down fares on this route and benefit flyers, most of whom are students.
According to sources, the number of flights is set to be doubled to 60 weekly — 30 by Air India (26) and Vistara (4), along with an equal number of flights by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
The reason for this move is that in August this year, minimum one-way economy class fares on Delhi-London flights skyrocketed to over Rs 1.5 lakh. Traffic in the sector had substantially increased after the UK waved off mandatory institutional quarantine for passengers travelling from India.
During the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK had put India on its red list on April 23 this year, which did not allow Indian citizens to enter the UK. However, specific categories were exempted from this restriction, including British citizens/residents going from India requiring mandatory quarantine in a hotel for ten days after they arrived in the UK.
On August 8, 2021, India was moved to the amber list by the UK, allowing travellers from the country to enter with the need for undergoing a mandatory quarantine in a hotel for ten days. The opening has led to fares skyrocketing due to various factors, including 30 weekly flights between the two countries, demand for travel for nearly 3.5 months since the UK restricted travellers from India and peak student season.
Amid the pandemic in March 2020, India had stopped regular international flights. However, these were later resumed in the form of Vande Bharat flights operated by Air India through bubble flight arrangements with countries.
In the middle of this year, India had planned to restart international flights slowly. This, however, could not be done due to the deadly second wave of the virus, with daily cases rising to more than 4,00,000 per day. Various counties, including the UK, had banned flights and passengers from India at that time, temporarily holding plans to open international flights.