It is no secret that the stoppage of commercial air travel over the past few months has left a lot of people stranded in India and also left a lot of Indians left stranded abroad. With this in mind, Air India was assigned the task of bringing back Indians from across the globe. Ideally, they are best suited for the mission given their wide-body aircraft portfolio. But Air India has been selling tickets on both legs for many flights, while the costs per seat were arrived at with the assumption that the outward leg would fly empty. There has been a great rush for Air India’s flights, especially to the USA, with flights selling out literally three minutes after opening bookings. This also has been because a very limited number of flights have been operated in the first month of the repatriation flights mission. Now, the number of Air India Evacuation flights is set to go up.
The first indication of a bump came from the minister of civil aviation who said more flights would be added in June.
More flights being added to Mission Vande Bharat to enable stranded & distressed Indians to return home.@airindiain will operate 70 flights to destinations in USA & Canada under Phase 3 of the Mission from 11-30 June 2020.@MEAIndia @MoCA_GoI @PIB_India
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) June 1, 2020
According to tentative information I’ve pieced together talking to various people in Air India and sighting internal memos, the airline is now set to fly almost daily flights to the USA in the coming weeks as a part of the Vande Bharat Mission phase 3. Here are the flights that are being planned:
- Delhi – San Francisco – Delhi (AI 173/174): Daily from June 12 to June 30
- Delhi – Toronto – Delhi (AI 187/188): Daily from June 12 to June 30
- Delhi – Chicago – Delhi: Daily from June 11 to June 30 (except June 28)
- Mumbai – New York Newark – Mumbai (AI 191/144): On Monday, Wednesday and Friday from June 19 to 29
- Delhi – New York JFK – Delhi (AI 101/102): On June 24, 28 and 30
- Delhi – Washington DC – Delhi (AI 103/104): On June 19, 22, 24, 27
Air India’s Twitter tells us these flights should be up for sale from June 5, 2020, at 5 PM IST.
Also, with domestic flights now open, it should be easier for you to make it to Delhi or Mumbai to take a flight to the USA. If you don’t get a flight to your desired destination, just take one available and book a connection inside the USA. Just remember, one can fly to the USA with a residual visa validity of 3 months only here on, not one year.
This is great news for people who want to fly between India and North America. I assume flights have been scaled up because North America loads are higher, and also the rest of the world can be covered with the 787s (Europe, Asia, Australia). Also, while commercial aviation is closed at the moment to international airlines, Air India will be able to ask for a price and get it, from those who are really desperate to get back home from their outposts in India or USA.
Do you think there will be enough seats available on Air India’s next round of flights to the USA and Canada to keep everyone happy?
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