New flights from Stansted Airport to India's Bollywood capital Mumbai ready for take-off
New flights from Stansted Airport direct to India's economic hub, Mumbai, will start in February, boosting trade and tourism across the East of England.
The route will be a first for the Essex airport. News of its launch comes less than three months after Air India began the only direct London flights to the northern city of Amritsar from Stansted – the carrier's inaugural route from the Uttlesford hub.
The new three-times-a-week service begins on February 21, initially for the winter season, and will be operated by a 256-seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner offering business and economy classes.
Ken O'Toole, Stansted's chief executive, said: "With London Stansted sitting in one of the most vibrant, exciting and innovative regions in the UK, it should come as no surprise that Air India has decided to launch this new service to one of the world's most important economic hubs.
"This new route is further evidence of the growing demand from businesses and passengers across the region for more long-haul connections from their local airport.
"We know that 200,000 people from our region travel to Mumbai every year from other airports, so this new service will not only provide greater choice but help cut down unnecessary journeys and provide a shot in the arm to the regional and national economies.
"As a forward-thinking and innovative airport, we have the ambition and runway capacity to open up even more exciting destinations across Asia, the Middle East and beyond to satisfy rising demand, provide greater choice for consumers and provide a vital boost to jobs and the local economy over the coming years."
The news has been welcomed by businesses and organisations in the region who say the new link will generate trade and investment opportunities. Tourism chiefs expect inbound tourism will increase as the UK is the second most popular European destination for Indian travellers.
Denise Rossiter, chief executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, said: "India offers many opportunities for businesses in the East of England and the ability to fly direct from Stansted will be of real benefit to Essex Chambers members as we look to the UK growing its overseas markets. We look forward to seeing other new destinations coming forward in the future."
Peter Waters, executive director of Visit East of England, said: "This latest success for Stansted Airport is a great opportunity for the East of England to capitalise on the world's second fastest-growing outbound tourism market.
"India is an untapped country for the region, particularly for the 'Visiting Friends and Relatives' segment and visitors looking to explore a different part of England. The more Stansted can develop its global networks, the faster the East of England can grow its share of overseas visitors."
David Rooke, location services director for Invest ESSEX, said: "This will undoubtedly bring UK and Indian businesses even closer together. With India investing more in the UK than the rest of the EU combined and UK India Week going global in 2020, these flights will be a welcome addition to the business community."
Mumbai, with a population of nearly 20 million, is India's key economic powerhouse and accounts for more than 6% of the country's economy.
It lies on the west coast of the country and is a major port on the Arabian Sea. It is home to India's film industry, known by many as Bollywood.
Rated the 12th richest city in the world in 2018, the headquarters of several major companies are in Mumbai, including Tata Group, Essel Group, Reliance Industries and Aditya Birla Group.
It is home to some of India's largest consumer packaged goods companies including Hindustan Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Nivea and Colgate-Palmolive.