Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created a host of problems for Russian airlines, but for those from other countries it has created valuable opportunities. In this case, Aeroflot’s prized slots at the crowded Heathrow International Airport in London, UK, were coveted by the industry.
In May, the UK government imposed sanctions on Russian airlines, preventing them from using UK airport slots, which are valued at up to £50 million.
The fact that jetBlue added a second daily flight at LHR gave the first indications of what happened to the slots held by Aeroflot, the only Russian airline operating at the London airport. These allocations will allow it to operate a day and night service to New York, one of the most lucrative international routes in the world.
But, Aeroflot had as many as 64 slots at LHR, leaving room for speculation that another carrier would be fortunate enough to win the important schedules.
After several days of resolutions, Airport Coordination Limited (ACL) revealed the names of the six airlines that will be able to add frequencies at Heathrow in the 2022-23 northern winter season:
- Virgin Atlantic, Vistara and jetBlue; with 7 weekly flights.
- Avianca and China Airlines; with 4 weekly flights.
- Westjet; with 3 weekly flights.
For the Latin America and Caribbean region, Avianca is a surprise. Currently, the Colombian airline operates one daily flight from Bogota (BOG), using Boeing 787-8 aircraft. The new allocations will allow Avianca to increase to 11 flights per week, from 3,500 to 5,500 seats.
According to data obtained through Aerocivil, the link between London and Bogota moved 160,548 passengers in 2019, with an occupancy rate that averaged 89.94%.
Six airlines from four continents will diversify the offer at LHR
Vistara landed in the UK at the end of 2021 from New Delhi (DEL), from July it will operate with a daily flight and with the new allocations will allow it to add a new destination from India or frequencies from DEL.
China Airlines used to fly from Taipei (TPE), Taiwan, at Gatwick (LGW), so now it will be able to move its operations to Heathrow, although it could keep operating at both London airports.
WestJet has been expanding its operations in Europe, currently using Gatwick with flights from Calgary (YYC), Toronto (YYZ), Vancouver (YVR) and Halifax (YHZ). But, from March 2022, it has four weekly flights from Calgary at Heathrow, and with the new slots allocated will give it access to a daily service at LHR.