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.
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.
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?