Virgin Atlantic is aiming for a 20% market share on the London-Mumbai route as it resumes flights on the route after discontinuing them about fours years back.
The British airline, which is starting flights from London Heathrow to Mumbai from Sunday, offering connections to the US, said it has invested £300 million in aircraft products.
The London-Mumbai route is one of the busiest internationally with around 10 lakh people flying every year on business and personal visits.
“We are excited to be back in India. With Mumbai we can make great success,” Richard Branson, president, Virgin Atlantic, told reporters on Friday.
The airline is also looking to add more India destinations and has applied for flying to Hyderabad, Bangalore and Goa.
However, he also noted that “it may be difficult to get slots at Heathrow.”
The airline exited the London-Mumbai route post 26/11 terrorist attack due to thinning passenger numbers.
Branson blamed poor slot timing for the earlier failure.
“Virgin Atlantic has been flying for 30 years and it is rare we do not succeed on a route. We did not have the right slots at London last time. We have the right slots and the right plane now,” he said.
Air India, Jet Airways and British Airways that operate on this route have slashed their fares considerably to counter the re-entry of Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic expects a market share of 20% going ahead between the four players.
To a query whether Virgin Atlantic planned to invest in any Indian carrier, Branson said, “We will consider this opportunity, though we do not promise anything at this moment.” The government has recently allowed 49% foreign direct investment in the aviation sector.
When asked whether the airline is looking at any alliances with any domestic player, Branson said, “We have a very good relationship with Jet Airways. We may enter a bigger alliance.”
He, however, did not state whether it will further strengthen its alliance with Jet specifically.
In 2009, Jet announced a codeshare pact with Virgin Atlantic, wherein passengers can book their tickets with Virgin Atlantic to travel with Jet Airways on its double daily service between Mumbai and London.