India leads British Airways post-lockdown recovery in Asia

The Indian travel market is leading the recovery of British Airways in Asia, where the carrier is operating 56 flights a week in India, exceeding its pre-pandemic schedule of 49 weekly flights in 2019.

Addressing a media roundtable in New Delhi last week, Sean Doyle, chairman & CEO, British Airways, said: “One of the first markets that we were keen to rebuild all our presence was in India. We’re back flying to all of our flight gateways in India, (and) seeing a positive picture in terms of demand from the leisure and VFR segment although corporate travel has been slow to recover.”

British Airways now flies to five Indian cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai; the India Gate in New Delhi, pictured

Doyle was in the Indian capital to officially open CallBA, the airline’s new call centre located in Gurugram, near Delhi. The centre will offer round-the-clock support to thousands of customers worldwide.

In China, British Airways resumed its flights to Shanghai in April while flights to Beijing began just last month. Beyond India and China, the airline is also operating flights to Singapore, Tokyo (Japan), Hong Kong and Sydney (Australia). Prior to the pandemic, British Airways flew to Kuala Lumpur, Osaka, Bangkok and Seoul – these flights have yet to be reinstated.

“There are a lot of footprints that we would like to reestablish. We would look to add our previous gateways back into the schedule before we add completely new destinations,” said Doyle.

Even though the carrier has no immediate plans to add more destinations to its Indian network, Doyle sees the strong Indian economy paving the way for future growth of the carrier.

“Fifteen years ago, we were flying to 20 to 21 cities in the US, and today we fly to 31 destinations. We don’t see any reason why we should not record that rate of expansion in India too and increase existing frequency,” he added.

British Airways now flies to five Indian cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. The airline also flies from London to Asia-Pacific destinations 113 times a week.

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