From 31st October 2010, Air India is switching all its routes from India to North America to non-stop routes.
This is a major shift in Air India’s strategy. Till now they had been leaning towards a Europe based hub, potentially Munich, Germany (MUC). This was in alignment with Jet Airways, their biggest competitor, which has a hub in Brussels, Belgium (BRU). Under the new strategy, Air India is making all its flights to US and Canada as non-stops on their new 77W and 77L aircraft. The 77W is a Boeing 777-300ER and the 77L is a Boeing 777-200LR. Both are aircraft highly capable of handling these long routes.
Air India itself and several other airlines already have non-stop routes to the US. Air India had its Mumbai to New York (BOM-JFK) flight. Continental has non-stop flights to Newark, NJ from both Delhi and Mumbai (ERW – DEL/BOM) and American has Chicago to Delhi (ORD-DEL). Delta used to have a non-stop too, originally from New York (JFK) and later from Atlanta (ATL) to Mumbai (BOM), but it recently canned it. All other Air India routes were routed thru London (LHR) or Frankfurt (FRA), as you can see in the table below (source – www.airlineroute.net):
|Ahmedabad – Frankfurt – Newark||7 77W|
|Amritsar – London Heathrow – Toronto||4 77W|
|Delhi – Frankfurt||7 77L|
|Delhi – London Heathrow||7 77W|
|Delhi – London Heathrow – Toronto||3 77W|
|Delhi – New York JFK||7 77L|
|Mumbai – Frankfurt – Chicago||7 77W|
|Mumbai – London Heathrow||7 77W|
|Mumbai – New York JFK||7 77L|
The new non stop routes to North America are as below. The routes to London and Frankfurt remain, but terminate at those cities. As you can see, another shift in Air India’s routes has been the consolidation of all its long haul flights to originate from Delhi (DEL). They are making full use of Delhi airport’s new additional runway and the huge Terminal 3. As you can see, most of these routes also have a domestic leg within India, on smaller aircraft.
|Delhi – Chicago||7 77L||HYD-DEL 320|
|Delhi – Frankfurt||7 77L|
|Delhi – London Heathrow||7 77W
|Delhi – Toronto||7 77W||ATQ-DEL 321|
|Mumbai – Delhi – New York JFK||7 77W|
|Mumbai – London Heathrow||7 77W||AMD-BOM 321|
|Mumbai – Newark||7 77L||AMD-BOM 321|
Personally, I am really looking forward to these non-stop flights. These will be especially valuable once Air India finally completes its process of joining Star Alliance, allowing for earning and redeeming miles on United, my primary Mileage Program. I am also hoping that as Air India acquires new aircraft, including the 787, they will add more cities in the US, including Washington, DC (IAD).
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