Air India will launch flights to Los Angeles in Q42017

Air India, the biggest International Carrier from India, has been laying down plans to get even bigger by the day. Even though the US operations of the airline have been loss-making in the past, it is hoping that they will be able to charge the non-stop premium to India and bypass the transition via the middle-east. Now, it seems Air India Los Angeles operations may be finally getting started too!

Air India launched Delhi – San Francisco 3 times a week in December 2015, and then doubled frequency to 6 times a week in November 2016. They started a fifth freedom flight between London and Newark, by launching an Ahmedabad – London – Newark flight. They launched flights to Madrid as well in December 2016 and took over the Delhi – Vienna flights from Austrian. I’d say that is a spectacular show given they are going in all directions.

We earlier wrote about the Air India flight to Washington DC from Delhi. This went live on 7 July 2017 as well, and is operating 3 times a week as of now. Next in line are the launches to Stockholm & Copenhagen, which are coming up in the coming month or so. Stockholm operations start next week, and Copenhagen a week from now.

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Earlier this year, we shared that Air India is planning more international operations as well, including those to Dallas and Los Angeles. At that point of time, the date on the table for the Los Angeles route was on September 1. It does not seem they are meeting that timeline, but they are definitely on the task. The flight will be operated from Delhi, yet again.

As per a report in the Economic Times today,

The new flight, AI-105/AI-106, will be operated with a Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft, the dates for which are expected to be announced soon, a senior Air India official said.

Further, there are indeed hints of the new timelines,

The new flight is a part of the winter schedule and it may take off any time between late October and early November.

The service will be operated by a 342-seater B77W, which is also the same plane that is used on flights to JFK, Chicago and Newark. It beats me however, that the flights to SFO are operated by the B77L, which Air India has only 3 of, and the flights to Los Angeles from Delhi are longer but be operated by the B77W, which AI has 12 of.

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Going purely by simple range numbers in the public domain, the 77L has a max design range of 8,555 miles versus the 77W’s max range of 7370 miles. This of course does not account for the auxiliary fuel tanks that some of Air India’s long range planes have as well. So colour me confused when AI is operating the Washington and San Francisco flights on the 77L, but is operating the 77W on other routes.

Another thing that beats me. While I agree that Air India has a genuine hub operation in Delhi with tonnes of spokes from Indian airports feeding into their International operations and vice versa, AI could have easily started this flight from Mumbai. Given Mumbai and Los Angeles are both entertainment capitals, and the slots on an international night flight may have not been such a problem as compared to the domestic slots. Because, if, the movie world wanted to travel between countries, they’d now still be flying one-stop via the middle-east or Europe and not via Delhi most probably.

Regardless, this is great that the airline continues to go on the offensive while being in the process of being sold, rather than save its gunpowder for a future owner, which I don’t see coming for another couple of years at least.

What do you think about the new non-stop service between Delhi and Los Angeles coming up this year?

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  1. They should switch SFO and IAD to 77W and use the LRs for SFO and EWR. That will allow them to service SFO and EWR without any payload restrictions.

  2. One thought what are the chances that AI can shift their SFO flight direct to BLR with connection to DEL (SFO-BLR-DEL & DEL-BLR-SFO) and continue LAX out of DEL – This would seem logical with B77L comfortably utilizing BLR runway – How would be the airport restrictions in this case (specifically BLR)?

    • BLR has a 900m elevation above sea level. Basic runway length is increased at the rate of 7% per 300 m rise in elevation above the mean sea level. The current runway length of the 09/27 runway is 4,000 by 45 metres (13,123 ft × 148 ft). Safety Area: Consists of the runway, which is paved area plus the shoulder on either side of runway plus the area that is cleared, graded and drained. For instrumental runway (BLR is CAT1), it should be minimum 300 m. The length of safety area is equal to the length of runway plus 120m.

      BLR isn’t ready for the A380 yet, which is why they’re building the 2nd runway, which will be equipped with CATIIIb and Code F compliant.

      But, the B77L shouldn’t be an issue at all though.

  3. I am pretty sure that Jet Airways is the biggest international carrier from India – based on available seats atleast. Air India might have more destinations, but Jet Airways beats AI in terms of seats.

  4. “While I agree that Air India has a genuine hub operation in Delhi with tonnes of spokes from Indian airports feeding into their International operations and vice versa, AI could have easily started this flight from Mumbai”

    Technically not feasible for them. The current runway 09/27 length means that AI’s BOM-EWR flight on a 77W goes payload restricted most of the summer days. Forget cargo, there are many reports of pax bags being unloaded to lower the weight and they are then sent on another carrier to Newark.

    UA’s flight on the same sector is a 77E that has much lower pax capacity and needs shorter runway than 77W at MTOW, so they don’t have such payload restriction.

    Now consider that LAX is 900 miles farther than EWR. Even more fuel weight, even less bags in the belly.

    DEL doesn’t have any problems with its much longer runway 11/29.

    • Yes the Delhi runway 11/29 is 14,530 ft × 200 ft vs Mumbai’s 09/27 being 12,008 ft x 200 ft.

      A major roadblock for any further lengthening of 09/27 is complicated by the Cross-runway the intersecting 14/32 compared to Delhi’s 3 parallel runways with Delhi having 10/28 which is roughly same dimension as Mumbai’s 09/27.

      That’s Delhi’s biggest advantage right now and doesn’t seem like any possible near term feasible solution exists thanks to how crowded the area around MIAL is.

  5. Ajay – bottomline – they have a debt of 50,000 cr, the interest burden on this is more than the profit they make – cmon – dont be excited by their expansion – its a further dent on Indian taxpayers money – Ashwini Lohani should stop this mindless expansion mode when he has no money – GOI wont bail them out further. Has anyone seen their recovery plan – ? It does not exist! This airline needs to stop existing if it cant make ends meet or if they do not find a buyer. I dont want to pay money out of my taxes further to fund their inefficiency !

    • @Deepak, I differ, slightly though. Only because they are putting existing assets to good use if they can pull this off. They are not buying new planes for this. And I guess in spite of their broken planes they have seen success to an extent in SFO. the strategy is measured, to go in 3 days a week and then see if you can make it a daily. For once, a solid plan I guess, even if from a failing career.

    • The worst plan for a carrier to make money is to drop the routes, especially a carrier that’s been put up for a sale – now with this additional route, value for AI’s slots just went up.

      This is a sound strategy for a carrier that’s going to be put up for sale to a strategic investor and that kind of investor look for landing slots and routes while valuing the carrier.

      • Yes but what are the costs they have paid for the landing slot? The costs of the ground staff (mostly outsourced) they are going to hire in LAX ? The termination costs of the landing slots in the contract incase they witdraw ? These are all costs which can run into millions of dollars ! Buyer – wishful thinking. First they need to get parliament to agree to the sale!

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