Air Canada Adds Fifth Freedom London To Mumbai Flight

Air Canada Adds Fifth Freedom London To Mumbai Flight

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Air Canada is launching a couple of interesting routes this winter. Not only will the airline fly nonstop from Vancouver to Bangkok, but Air Canada will also launch a new London to Mumbai flight.

Air Canada’s new Europe to India flight

This winter you’ll be able to fly Air Canada exclusively between Europe and India. Air Canada will operate a seasonal route between Toronto and Mumbai via London. The flight will operate daily with the following schedule between October 29, 2022, and March 24, 2023:

AC856 Toronto to London departing 8:30PM arriving 8:30AM (+1 day)
AC856 London to Mumbai departing 11:10AM arriving 1:40AM (+2 days)
AC855 Mumbai to London departing 4:50AM arriving 9:20AM
AC855 London to Toronto departing 12:00PM arriving 2:55PM

Air Canada’s new Toronto to Mumbai via London route

This will operate as a fifth freedom flight, which is to say that passengers can fly Air Canada exclusively between London and Mumbai if they’d like (and similarly, they can just take the Toronto to London flight).

Air Canada will use a Boeing 787-9 for this service, featuring a total of 298 seats. This includes 30 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 247 economy class seats.

Air Canada’s Boeing 787-9 business class

Why is Air Canada launching this route?

I always enjoy taking fifth freedom flights, and there’s an element to it that’s a throwback to the old days where flights like this were needed. With longer range and lower capacity planes (like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787), there’s less need for fifth freedom services, but they still exist.

So, why is Air Canada launching this London to Mumbai route? The airline has quite a large route network to India, though that’s challenging right now, given the closure of Russian airspace. These were ultra long haul flights even before airspace closures became an issue, and now they’re even more challenging.

With that in mind:

  • The direct air distance between Toronto and Mumbai is 7,775 miles, so with airspace closures this route can’t be operated nonstop anymore; as a result, Air Canada is trying to find a logical stopover point, while also tapping into another market with big demand (UK to India)
  • Presumably Air Canada will be utilizing a couple of additional Heathrow slots for this service, so I guess this is also a way for Air Canada to reduce transatlantic flights to London while holding onto its slots.
  • Air Canada will continue to fly between Toronto and New Delhi nonstop, as that flight is around 500 miles shorter, and within range
  • Air Canada will continue to fly between Montreal and New Delhi nonstop, as that flight is even shorter than the Toronto to New Delhi service
  • Air Canada will resume Vancouver to New Delhi flights; the flight to India will have a refueling stop in Dublin, but passengers won’t be able to get on or off there (the return flight will be nonstop)
Air Canada is getting creative with its India route network

Bottom line

Air Canada will be resuming its Toronto to Mumbai route with a twist. Due to Russian airspace closures, it’s no longer feasible to operate the flight nonstop. Rather than just adding a refueling stop, the airline will now operate the route as a fifth freedom service via London, meaning passengers could fly Air Canada exclusively between London and Mumbai.

I’m curious to see how this route performs. I imagine it will only stick around as long as Russia’s airspace remains closed, but that could be quite some time…

What do you make of Air Canada launching London to Mumbai flights?

Conversations (21)
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  1. Sunil Guest

    What is the reason Air Canada not operating same to Dublin as a fifth freedom flight, while resuming Vancouver to New Delhi flights ?
    The flight to India will have a refueling stop in Dublin, but passengers won’t be able to get on or off there.
    There is huge demand from Ireland to India non-stop. This is great opportunity.

  2. PJ Burns Guest

    It’s a great pity they don’t pick up passengers in Dublin I think it would be a great new destination

    1. Sunil Guest

      Completely agree. There is huge demand from Ireland to India non-stop. This is great opportunity.

  3. Hiro Gold

    I'm sorry for picking up on a small thing - but there is no airport city as "New Delhi", it's just "Delhi". Just as similarly confusing as those living in Delhi thinking that they live in New Delhi, where the latter is just a tiny little administrative area within Delhi and hardly there are any residential neighborhoods except for a few politicians and civil servants that have quarters there.

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      Well, technically the airport serves the municipality of New Delhi which is the capital of the Republic of India, even though it is part of the larger New Delhi district which is in turn part of the Union Territory of Delhi (National Capital Territory - NCT), which is further in turn part of the National Capital Region - NCR.

      No different than referring to Washington Reagan/National Airport even though it is located in Arlington, VA....

      Well, technically the airport serves the municipality of New Delhi which is the capital of the Republic of India, even though it is part of the larger New Delhi district which is in turn part of the Union Territory of Delhi (National Capital Territory - NCT), which is further in turn part of the National Capital Region - NCR.

      No different than referring to Washington Reagan/National Airport even though it is located in Arlington, VA. Or indeed some Ryanair served airports that aren't even located in the same country that they are marketed for!

    2. Hiro Gold

      Sean - the common perception for the airport's reference city is Delhi, and so are most airports across the world display departure/arrival schedule to/from DEL as Delhi, not New Delhi (the only exception seems Singapore Changi and Dubai International, where the latter terminology is used).

  4. Wayne W. Guest

    The LHR to BOM route is not new. Air Canada flew that route when it flew YYZ-LHR-BOM-SIN in the mid 80s using their L1011 aircrafts. So the route between LHR and BOM basically has been reinstated.

  5. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    "The direct air distance between Toronto and Mumbai is 7,775 miles, so with airspace closures this route can’t be operated nonstop anymore"

    That's not true. AC has 77Ls that can do the extra distance with no problem.

    Obviously, the airline doesn't believe they can make money doing that. But it's definitely possible to do.

  6. iamhere Guest

    I don't think the arrival in India is +2 - I think it is +1 from the +1 arrival in Europe.

  7. James goldie Guest

    Yes i actually flew london bombay sing on a tristar l1011 in 1986 in first class on air canada and it was a good old fashioned flight wiyh mega service ..an age pre tvs internet sliding doors showers bars etc just nice food and fellow passengers

  8. Jordan Member

    AC operated LHR - India before.

    There is a massive Indian population spread across the UK and the Toronto area (with many 1st generation Indians in Canada, from UK Indian parents)... so there are close ties between all 3 countries, and many Indians will opt for the UK - India service with little hesitation.

    This is a great opportunity for AC and STAR ex UK to India nonstop.

  9. Sarthak Guest

    @kip - Is it the runway though? AI operates the EWR BOM route nonstop with a 77W (UA can’t even make it work with a 787-9 right now) and they have a higher baggage allowance than UA. AI 77Ws have auxiliary fuel tanks so I sense this has more to do with Russian airspace than the runway. Just food for thought.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      "AI 77Ws have auxiliary fuel tanks"

      There are no 77W with auxiliary fuel tanks. They aren't certified for it.

      AA's 77Ls however, do. But they're on SFO.

    2. Sarthak Guest

      Yeah you’re probably right - My bad. But regardless AI is operating that route consistently with the 77W. Still wonder if runway length is the issue.

      Does AA operate any 77Ls out of SFO? Didn’t think they had any wide bodies based there.

  10. Kip Guest

    The stop is mainly there because the runway in BOM is short and has other takeoff restrictions that limit the takeoff fuel load which in turns limits the range. This is all multiplied by the fact that airlines have to fly further because of the Russia airspace closure.

    IIRC, AC (and UA) could still fly direct to BOM, just not return. Pre war, the outbound from bound was notorious for taking empty seats to...

    The stop is mainly there because the runway in BOM is short and has other takeoff restrictions that limit the takeoff fuel load which in turns limits the range. This is all multiplied by the fact that airlines have to fly further because of the Russia airspace closure.

    IIRC, AC (and UA) could still fly direct to BOM, just not return. Pre war, the outbound from bound was notorious for taking empty seats to take off. Stopping in LHR is a multifaceted win, from connecting all AC and UA flights to BOM as well as ensuring full payload capability on the return

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      The main runway in BOM 09/27 is 12000+ feet at sea level. 787-9 can do MTOW ISA departures with 9500 feet. Runway length is definitely not an issue.

    2. Adam Simmons Guest

      Really? Wikipedia shows BOM being 11m above sea level and it is very close to the coast.

    3. Sarthak Sharma Guest

      @Adam I think he was talking about runway length not elevation.

  11. Steve-O Guest

    This isn't a new route. Air Canada flew this back in the 1980s. It continued on to Singapore as well. The magic of 5th freedom flights and always keeping them in your back pocket!

  12. Sean M. Diamond

    Air Canada actually operated this route before with a further tag sector to Singapore.

    They ran YYZ-LHR-BOM-SIN with a mixture of L1011s and B747-200 Combis from 1985 to 1991 approx. if I recall right.

    1. Steve-O Guest

      Spot on! You beat me to it

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Sean M. Diamond

Air Canada actually operated this route before with a further tag sector to Singapore. They ran YYZ-LHR-BOM-SIN with a mixture of L1011s and B747-200 Combis from 1985 to 1991 approx. if I recall right.

2
ConcordeBoy Diamond

"The direct air distance between Toronto and Mumbai is 7,775 miles, so with airspace closures this route can’t be operated nonstop anymore" That's not true. AC has 77Ls that can do the extra distance with no problem. Obviously, the airline doesn't believe they can make money doing that. But it's definitely possible to do.

1
Sean M. Diamond

The main runway in BOM 09/27 is 12000+ feet at sea level. 787-9 can do MTOW ISA departures with 9500 feet. Runway length is definitely not an issue.

1
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