Oneworld founding member American Airlines has announced expansion to India. The airline intends to operate thrice a week flights between New York – JFK and New Delhi starting October 31, 2021. The airline will deploy the B777-200 aircraft for the mission. The airline will increase the frequency to Daily to cater to the peak holiday demand between Nov 17, 2021 and Jan 3, 2022. The route is 11,777 kms long.
The airline’s B777-200 is configured with 273 seats as per its website. This includes 37 Business class seats, 24 Premium Economy and 212 economy seats.
Flights are now open for sale with below timings
AA292 JFK2010 – 1930 (+1) DEL
AA293 DEL0055 – 0630JFK
New York departure on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays while New Delhi departure on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The expansion comes with the strengthening partnership with JetBlue. American Airlines is the largest airline in the world by fleet count. Last February, with the partnership with Alaska Airlines in place – American Airlines had announced flights between Seattle and Bengaluru. The flight was to start in October 2020, but did not materialise due to the pandemic and subsequent market conditions. Interestingly while American Airlines did not start the flight, United launched more flights to India and so did Air India.
American Airlines and India story
The airline operated to India until 2012, when it flew between Chicago and New Delhi – a route which sees solid performance from Air India and has recently seen United join in. American Airlines was on the verge of a codeshare with Kingfisher Airlines as Kingfisher Airlines waited for an entry into Oneworld. The partnership was in such an advance stage that American Airlines had also changed its flight timings arriving in the evening instead of late evening – which would have helped connect to over ten major cities in the country with a partnership with Kingfisher Airlines. Alas! Kingfisher Airlines shut down and so did American Airlines’ operations to India!
In February 2020, the airline announced launch of flight services between Seattle and Bengaluru. This was to be the first non-stop to United States from Bengaluru! The pandemic has ensured that this route which was to start in October last year, hasn’t started. United pipped American Airlines to announce a non-stop to San Francisco from Bengaluru but Air India became the first operator on the route having started twice a week service in January!
The Seattle – Bengaluru flight is available for booking beginning October 2021.
The New York / Newark to Delhi / Mumbai route is the densest route between India and the USA. Air India and United already operate Daily on this route. Delta’s December 2019 entry has gone into suspended animation.
The non-stop flights between India and North America are profitable seasonally. With fuel inching up, the cost of operation for thus Long Haul flight will be in question again.
American Airlines is focusing on connections in the United States to make this flight work. Similarly, Air India focuses on the connections in India. United has its focus on connections in the US and also has a codeshare in place with Vistara which gives it a wider reach in India as well.
Will American Airlines also codeshare? Will it be with IndiGo? Will the flights really start in October, going by how the pandemic is still raging? Answers will only be available a few weeks to the scheduled start date!