Virgin enters Mumbai; eyes flying to B'lore, H'bad, Goa

Virgin enters Mumbai; eyes flying to B'lore, H'bad, Goa

Richard Branson-promoted Virgin Atlantic, which is re-launching its Mumbai-London flight from Sunday after a three-year gap, today said it would fly to Hyderabad, Bangalore and Goa as and when it gets the approvals.

"We are planning to apply for flying rights to Hyderabad, Bangalore and Goa," Virgin Atlantic President Richard Branson told reporters here after announcing the re-introduction of Mumbai services.

However, he also said that "it maybe difficult to get slots at the Heathrow airport." Virgin Atlantic, which had closed Mumbai operations three years ago, but continued to fly to New Delhi, would launch its Mumbai services from October 28 with a wide-body Airbus A330 aircraft.

"We are delighted to be back in Mumbai. Virgin would not only connect Mumbai to London, but its daily flights also offer seamless connectivity from London to New York, Boston, Miami and Washington and Chicago, with only a couple of hours of stop-over," Branson said.

The airline has invested 300 million pounds in aircraft products and the re-launch of the Mumbai operations will create 140 jobs in both India and Britain, he said. To a question on Kingfisher, Branson said he does not know what exactly went wrong with the airline, but wished its chairman Vijay Mallya good luck.

On the recent policy enabling allowing the overseas carriers to invest up to 49 per cent in the domestic carriers, Branson said despite policy change, the investment climate is still not conducive.

India is still going through a difficult part of economic cycle and there is a need to see the recovery fast but added may be the landscape change in the coming years. He, however, said investment in the domestic carrier is not out of possibility, adding "We will have a look if we see an obvious opportunity".

He further said he is hopeful of making profit from India operations in the coming years, adding currently traffic from India accounts for less than 5 per cent of the traffic.
With its Mumbai re-launch, Virgin Atlantic is seeking to build on record demand for travel between New Delhi, London and New York.

The A330-300 flying on the routes from both Mumbai and Delhi carries the brand new upper class suite, with enhanced seating, a bar and many other cabin updates to give passengers a unique flying experience, he added.

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