Is American Airlines considering a return to India?

India, as an aviation market for the American carriers has always been looked at, but not addressed by anyone except United, given the fact that USA/India flights are ultra-long haul, and it requires a certain amount of premium traffic at the right price point to make it work. American Airlines used to fly the Ultra Long Haul route between Chicago and Delhi, before withdrawing the route during their Chapter 11 Bankruptcy proceedings. It was later revealed how the route was bleeding money for American Airlines, to the tune of $40 million.

Delta as well, after closing their 1-stop to India, for the longest time used the services of KLM/Air France and then Jet Airways as a way to fly to India, and dragged their feet a long time before finally announcing flights to India which will launch at the end of 2019.

American has for the past few years, been using their JV partners in British Airways to transfer Indian passengers to various points in India.Now, there have been a lot of murmurs about American Airlines putting their hat back in the ring and launching a flight to India. Karan wrote about this way back in March 2019.

American Airlines had a big announcement a few days ago, where they announced flights between Dallas/Tel Aviv, Philadelphia/Casablanca, Chicago/Krakow, Chicago/Budapest and Chicago/Prague. Besides, they are shifting their flights to Iceland from their DFW hub to their PHL hub. In this whole gig, American Airlines did not announce this India flight.

xJonNYC, who is usually bang on about his predictions about American Airlines, put out a tweet a few days ago,

American Airlines to India is a very large possibility, which then brings the question where? Will American Airlines revive the Chicago-Delhi market, or operate a different route altogether. There are two possibilities on the origin point in the USA at the moment:

  • Dallas FortWorth: The home of American Airlines, DFW is a very strong contender here, given American’s ability to direct traffic from all over the USA to put on a non-stop flight.
  • Philadelphia: American has been gradually increasing focus on Philly since their merger with US Airways. Philly has a nice well rounded catchment area of Indian diaspora, including DC, Southern NJ and others which can be driven from, so apart from being a sort of hub for American, it also has strong India ties.

I would like to imagine the choice of equipment used would also dictate where the flight operates from. For instance, the 787-9 of American Airlines are based at DFW.

About the destination of this flight in India, again, the consideration set has options.

  • Delhi: Delhi is always a safe option, given it is a hub both for Air India and Vistara and there is pretty good connectivity from Delhi to fly out to the rest of the country.
  • South India (BLR/HYD): The other contenders for this flight, if it happens seems to be one of these two airports. It would perhaps be dependent on the origin for the route, and also the fact that most ULH flights are still headed to DEL and then to BOM, so these airports are pretty much left alone at the moment. But the lack of a strong domestic carrier here to interline and send traffic to rest of India would be then a question that needs to be answered.

Another reason why this flight may have not taken off so far would be the lack of an interlining partner/codeshare partner in India for the moment. Air India and United, surprisingly don’t codeshare, in spite of being a part of Star Alliance, and United is sending their traffic the way of Vistara on this route. So, does dealing with United bar Vistara to deal with American Airlines? Don’t think so.

There does not seem to be a timeline at this moment for this flight to take off, but I would expect even if this announcement comes through anytime soon, the flight to be only scheduled from next year Summer Schedule onwards, if not before.

What do you make of American Airlines plans to operate to India again?

Comments

  1. I think it makes a lot of sense for AA to get NS services into India irrespective of the hubs. They (AA) ditched the A350’s and are buying 43 787’s over the next few years. From a personal experience, being a oneworld member – I do not have many options (on oneworld airlines) to get decent connections to the US which I frequent often – and have to use BA (LHR) and then onwards.

  2. It’s really stupid of AI & UA not to codeshare – it would effectively compete vs the ME3’s.

    AA’s metal & quality of service is quite poor compared to the ME3, which is now the defacto choice of Indians traveling to US. So, for AA to be effective it needs to up it’s existing service level.

  3. When AA service to India comes it will be from DFW and not PHL. First AA generally flies aircraft capable of the trip from the former and not the latter. Second there is some O/D traffic to Southern India from the DFW metroplex. Third DFW would run into far less competition than PHL (which competes against EWR/JFK).

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