Avianca Wins London Heathrow Slots From Aeroflot

Avianca was among the airlines that benefited from Aeroflot’s exit from London Heathrow International Airport (LHR). The take-off and landing slots formerly belonging to Aeroflot at Heathrow have been reallocated for the IATA’s winter season of 2022-2023. Who else benefited from this? Let’s find out.

A lucky windfall

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created a windfall for six lucky airlines at Heathrow. Without the need to pay millions, these airlines have received 1,344 unclaimed slots previously operated by Russia’s state carrier Aeroflot.


Edmond Rose, current aviation strategy consultant and former Chief Executive Officer at Airport Coordination Limited, pointed out that the benefited airlines at Heathrow are JetBlue, Avianca, China Airlines, and Vistara, all qualified as new entrants. WestJet and Virgin also received slots formerly operated by Aeroflot.

He added,

“The diversity of destinations they will serve is impressive, touching four continents. JetBlue and Vistara are particularly fortunate to be allocated prized slots for every day of the week. JetBlue’s morning arrivals are especially valuable for transatlantic operations.”

Last week, Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue, celebrated securing permanent slots at Heathrow. He said the airline is now positioned to provide long-term service at one of the busiest airports in the world.

Virgin Atlantic, Vistara, and JetBlue obtained slots to operate daily flights to LHR; Avianca and China Airlines to operate four weekly flights; and Westjet three weekly flights.

Avianca received additional slots to operate up to four new weekly flights to London Heathrow. Photo: Daniel Martínez Garbuno | Simple Flying.

Avianca’s services to London

Avianca has not yet announced what it plans to do with the recently received slots at Heathrow.

The South American airline already operates a daily flight between Bogota and London Heathrow (flight AV120), employing its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner fleet. This route was restored earlier this year following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Simple Flying reached Avianca for comment; at the moment of publishing this story, we have not received an answer.

To Europe, Avianca currently operates six daily flights (42 per week). The airline has five different routes, of which three of them fly directly to Madrid Barajas International Airport (MAD).

These are the routes Avianca currently operates to Europe:

  1. Bogota-Barcelona, one flight daily.
  2. Bogota-London Heathrow, one flight daily.
  3. Bogota-Madrid, three flights daily
  4. Cali-Madrid, four flights per week
  5. Medellín-Madrid, three flights per week.

Aeroflot used to operate daily flights between Moscow and London. Photo: Getty Images.

Aeroflot’s exit from London Heathrow

In February, Russia invaded Ukraine, and this decision directly impacted the commercial aviation industry worldwide. Shortly after the invasion, the United Kingdom banned Russian airlines and aircraft from flying through its airspace, effectively blocking Aeroflot from continuing its daily service between Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) and London Heathrow.

In May, UK’s transport secretary Grand Shapps banned Russian airlines from cashing in slots at UK airports. These slots could have been worth up to £50 million or even more (for instance, in 2016, Oman Air bought a pair of Heathrow slots from Air France-KLM for US$75 million!).

Currently, Russian airlines are banned from flying in many parts of the world (including China, when it comes to foreign-owned Russian-operated aircraft).

What do you think about the allocation of the former Aeroflot slots? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: TTGMedia, Airways Magazine.

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