Pre-pandemic, American Airlines announced their return to India with a flight between Seattle and Bengaluru. The route, which was announced in February 2020, was initially supposed to launch in October 2020 but has seen delays repeatedly. The airline had postponed the launch of the route many a time, with the last announcement being about the flight launching in March 2022. Now it has been put on hold, indefinitely.
American Airlines’ Seattle to Bengaluru delays
American Airlines had initially planned their flight to Bengaluru in October 2020, apart from launching cooperation with Alaska and forming a “hub” in Seattle. Then, Vasu Raja, American’s Senior Vice President, Network Strategy, had said, “India is a grossly underserved market, despite the number of businesses with a major presence in both India and the West Coast. By adding Seattle to Bangalore, we’re giving customers from more than 70 US cities access to India in one stop or less — versus the two, three or four stops they’d have to make to get there in the past.”
Unfortunately, the pandemic put to rest their best-laid plans, and the world has changed since then. The launch of this route was delayed from October 2020 to October 2021, then to November 2021, when American moved it forward to January 2022, and then the flight was intended to launch in March 2022, with the flight operating as per the following schedule:
- AA 180 between Seattle (SEA) and Bengaluru (BLR) to depart 17:55 Hours from SEA and arrive in BLR at 23:05 Hours (+1)
- AA 181 between Bengaluru (BLR) and Seattle (SEA) to depart 01:45 Hours from BLR and arrive in SEA at 06:00 Hours
In an internal company-wide memo reviewed by LiveFromALounge, the airline has now revealed that the Seattle to Bangalore flight will be delayed further. There is no date of start of these flights anymore.
What is causing these delays?
American Airlines has slotted this flight using a Boeing 787-9 aircraft, which is perfect for this long (8,112 miles) mission and equipped with 30 Business class seats along with 21 Premium Economy and 234 Economy Class seats.
While the earlier postponements were because American did not want to launch a flight where they would have to operate it practically empty, now the airline is suffering from the delays of the 787 deliveries since Boeing can no longer deliver any 787s to customers due to an FAA embargo. American Airlines has 47 Boeing 787-9 aircraft on order, out of which 22 have been delivered. The last delivery was made in February 2019. The second tranche of deliveries is yet to begin and possibly hit by the embargo.
In the memo, Vasu Raja, the Chief Revenue Officer of American Airlines writes,
This weekend we will load our summer 2022 long-haul schedule, but it will not have the growth we initially expected. Boeing continues to be unable to deliver the 787s we have on order, including as many as 13 aircraft that were slated to be in our fleet by this winter. Without these widebodies, we simply won’t be able to fly as much internationally as we had planned next summer, or as we did in summer 2019.
Will this route ever take off?
The route makes sense, but in the meanwhile, more airlines have come up in the mix and might have upended some part of the plans American Airlines had with this route. United is slated to launch a flight between San Francisco and Bengaluru, which is again running delayed and postponed to May 2022. On the other hand, Air India is already operating between San Francisco and Bengaluru two times a week. A lot of the connecting traffic that American Airlines intended to corner might already be gone to these carriers, then?
But on the other hand, with the US opening up, India has also opened up to tourist traffic. Many of the restrictions ongoing for travel via third-countries into India for Indian passports, at least, might have been an opportunity to make some money on the sky-high fares in the books.
American Airlines has postponed the flight launch between Seattle and Bengaluru indefinitely. This would mean that if operationalised, the route has to wait until the Winter 2022 schedule launch (since there is no hope of these aircraft arriving anytime before April 2022 per Boeing). Hopefully, the world would have returned to a bit more normalcy by then.
What do you think of American Airlines’ rolling plans to launch the flight between Seattle and Bengaluru?
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