THE Canadian government is considering fresh proposals from Canadian Airlines to take over the Heathrow/Delhi route from rival Air Canada.
The move follows Air Canada pulling off the route in March after three years serving the Delhi market, citingunprofitability.
Canadian Airlines’ managing director Europe Gary Cross said Delhi was on top of the carrier’s wish-list of new routes from the region. “If we could start the flights, we would have done so yesterday,” said Cross.
“Our off-line sales from India to Canada are up 150% on last year and this, in itself, shows the market is buoyant. We have had further discussions with the Canadian government to register our interest and become the designated carrier on the route.”
Canadian applied to its government last year after Air Canada said it was dropping the Delhi service during winter months only. At the time, the government rejected Canadian’s proposals. But with Air Canada pulling out altogether, Canadian said it had a better chance to become the new designated carrier. Cross added that, if successful, the earliest launch date of the new service would be during peak season in February.
He said the airline planned to use a two-class Boeing 767 on the route, starting with three flights a week, rising to daily over time.
Air Canada’s withdrawal coincided with United Airlines decision to axe its daily Heathrow-Delhi flights, leaving only Air India and British Airways with 11 non-stop flights a week on the route between them. Their withdrawal intensified interest among other operators keen to serve the Indian market. Virgin Atlantic has expressed a desire to operate daily flights to Delhi and India’s financial capital Bombay, but will need a change in the air services agreement between the UK and Indian governments to fulfil its plans.
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