India and the United Kingdom are looking to significantly increase bilateral trade, and the flagship carrier British Airways wants to be a part of the growth story. It has opened a new call centre in India and plans to increase flights from the key aviation hubs of Delhi and Mumbai.
“India and the UK want to double their trade by 2030. We think our services will play a critical part of it... we have been enabling connectivity between the two countries for 99 years and as we want to grow; what that growth will look like we are still evaluating,” said British Airways Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle today.
In the post-pandemic era, the airline sees “headroom for expansion” in India as well as a more balanced demand growth. Bullish about the opportunities, British Airways has also officially opened its new call centre in the country, where it has more than 2,000 employees, including around 1,700 at the call centre.
The carrier has increased its weekly flights to 56 in India, compared to the pre-pandemic number of 49 weekly flights. There was a growth in air travel demand in India, said Doyle, adding that the airline was rebuilding and modernising, with India as an important part of its plans.
According to the CEO, the airline would like to expand flights to Delhi and Mumbai, which are subject to bilateral air service agreement. Currently, the carrier operates 56 weekly flights connecting five Indian cities — Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. Out of the total, it operates 14 weekly flights to Delhi and 21 weekly flights to Mumbai.
“Mumbai and Delhi are subject to bilateral air service agreement. As demand grows, economy develops, it is very important that air services keep pace with that,” he said.
The existing bilateral flying rights between India and the United Kingdom for Delhi and Mumbai is fully utilised. The two countries have a liberal air service agreement. “Our network to the UK for Indian travellers is very significant... We have the biggest network to connect India with the US to serve 31 cities and also have extensive network in Canada,” said Doyle, citing the growth of the Indian diaspora in the United States of America as a factor for rising travel demand.
“British Airways has been flying to India since 1924, making it one of our longest-served and most valued destinations. This investment in our customer care team at CallBA (call centre) is part of our vision to continually enhance and upgrade our customer service,” said the CEO.
“Indian customers travelling between Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru can enjoy the airline’s newly designed Club Suite (business class) cabin, with direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy and luxurious flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration,” said a media release from the airline.
“Flyers will also soon start to see the new British Airways uniform, as cabin crew, pilots and check-in agents switch over to the airline’s first new uniform in 20 years,” it added.