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American Airlines Resumes Direct Flights To India After 10 Years

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JFK to New Delhi Flights Started This Week With Seattle to Follow in March

American Airlines has resumed direct flights to India after a ten year absence.

Indian Palace

Flights between New York JFK and New Delhi started this week, and will be running daily, year round. Previously, American had facilitated flights between Chicago and New Delhi, but ceased the operation in 2012. Current prices on the flights show around $644 for a round trip, dependent on date.

The carrier will be utilizing JetBlue to connect several other US cities to the Indian capital.

Delhi city center

In addition to the JFK and New Delhi route, American will also be adding regular flights between Seattle and Bengaluru. Originally, the flight was due to begin in January 2022, but pandemic related issues have forced American to push the launch date back to March. According to the airline, business travel’s slow recovery would hamper the route at this point. It also delayed the introduction of a Dallas to Tel-Aviv flight for similar reasons.

American Airlines plane
Heathrow airport London, UK – September 16, 2018: American airlines Boeing 777 at Heathrow airport in London

The news comes in the wake of India officially opening its borders to vaccinated tourists from certain countries, including the United States. It’s a significant and welcome step for the world’s largest democracy, as they have faced a tough pandemic. India’s COVID numbers are second only to the United States.

Tom Latig, director of EMEA sales for American said:

“A lot of customers really want to fly non-stop, particularly as we've come through the pandemic. We know there is huge demand for travel between India and the United States so there is an opportunity right now in the middle of the pandemic to come back”

India gate in delhi

The flight highlights a growing demand for travel between the US and India, and reports from American suggest that outlook is good for the route. They noted a 92% capacity flight on the first plane, and currently a 75% capacity booking for the next two months. 

The figures are prompting speculation that more routes can be expected in the near future. Based on the success of the two routes, American will be targeting Mumbai, India’s financial capital, as the next city to receive a direct link. 

tomb in india

The Seattle flights are already set to be massively beneficial from a business perspective, as Bengaluru is India’s main technology hub, allowing easy access from the similarly focussed cities on the western coast of the US. It would be in direct competition with United Airlines, who run flights to Bengaluru from San Francisco for similar reasons.

The JFK flight is a 15 hour journey, and some travel experts suggest American are looking to capitalize on more than just a growing relationship between the two countries. 

“Kennedy (JFK) international airport, New York, New York”

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way that many airline passengers are choosing to fly. With COVID restrictions dynamic across the globe, most airlines are seeing a high demand for non-stop flights, even in the face of some higher costs.

This partly comes down to a fear of catching the virus during a lengthy layover in another airport, and with many countries testing on arrival as well as before, travelers don’t want to risk the potential quarantines they may face.

New Delhi tomb

Other (although few at this point) countries are remaining strict on layover rules, classing even the briefest of stops in a designated high risk country as a trigger for quarantines, multiple tests, or outright denial at the border.

Although high vaccination rates are helping, passengers are still seeking the comfort of a direct flight, and American are hoping to cash in on the trend. The carrier will be competing with United, who already have a several direct flights to India, as well as Air India, India’s largest airline.

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