Having been connected to Mumbai through its partnership with Jet Airways, Virgin Atlantic Cargo is ready to add the city to its network again.
Managing director Dominic Kennedy tells Air Cargo Week that services across India have been performing well this year, and adding daily London to Mumbai services on 27 October reflects confidence in the market.
The services are resuming after a four-year gap, which was filled by Jet Airways until it ceased operations on 17 April.
A Boeing 787-9 will be used on the route, which is popular with passengers and has up to 26 tonnes of cargo capacity.
Kennedy has high hopes for the Mumbai route, saying: “We expect to benefit from the strong growth of the Mumbai market in recent years, which has seen revenues ex Mumbai to the UK and US increase by more than 50% since 2015 in revenue terms, and an increase of 46% to India from both countries over the same period.”
Virgin has served the Indian market for almost 20 years, and Kennedy says the airline has a lot of loyal customers supporting the new route.
He says: “In addition to our direct services to and from the UK, Virgin Atlantic’s extensive choice of destinations in the US, alongside our fast connections over London, has always been a prime reason why customers moving cargoes to and from India have worked with us and we expect this to increase when Mumbai re-joins our network in October.”
The pharma market out of India is particularly strong. Kennedy says Virgin’s GDP compliance and Pharma Zone at Heathrow Airport will be attractive to customers.
He says: “Mumbai is India’s commercial centre, and with the country’s vibrant economy and growing manufacturing base, we expect to see a diverse range of products on board our daily flights.”
The first half of 2019 has been good, with strong revenue on daily Delhi flights, which are operated by an Airbus A340-600.
Kennedy says: “Delhi-Heathrow has been especially buoyant and we are on target to outperform 2018 which was a record year for us on this key cargo route.”
Delhi has been served by Virgin for 19 years. Kennedy says: “It has been a very sustainable route from a cargo perspective and the growth we saw in 2018 and the first half of 2019 shows the level of demand we continue to experience.”
Virgin is committed to the Indian market and is confident it will remain an important part of the airline’s network.
He says: “The Indian government has set a very ambitious growth strategy for the country’s economy in the years ahead so we expect India to become even stronger and more significant, driven by its large consumer market and thriving manufacturing and services sectors.”