Air India will increase flights to San Francisco and Australia

Air India, the biggest International Carrier from India, has been laying down plans to get even bigger by the day. Even though the US operations of the airline have been loss-making in the past, it is hoping that they will be able to charge the non-stop premium to India and bypass the transition via the middle-east. Delhi San Francisco Air India flights were launched 3 times a week in December 2015 and then doubled frequency to 6 times a week in November 2016. They started a fifth freedom flight between London and Newark, by launching an Ahmedabad – London – Newark flightThey launched flights to Madrid as well in December 2016 and took over the Delhi – Vienna flights from Austrian. I’d say that is a spectacular show given they are going in all directions.

We earlier wrote about the Air India flight to Washington DC from Delhi. This went live on 7 July 2017 as well and is operating 3 times a week as of now. Next, in line, the launches to Stockholm & Copenhagen, have also completed and they are operating normally there. There has been a lot of conversation on Air India launching flights to Los Angeles, however, it looks like pending the privatisation of Air India that decision has been put on hold.

Delhi San Francisco Air India

However, it seems we may have some insight into the thinking of the airline at the moment now. It seems Air India will operate more flights to San Francisco with this new bird. At the CAPA India Aviation Summit 2018, which I am attending at the moment, the airline’s commercial director and Board member Mr Pankaj Srivastava made an appearance, and one of the things he announced was that the frequencies will go up from the current 6 flights a week to 9 flights a week in the future.

How would that happen? There is a third Boeing 777-200LR which is not being operated right now, and should be put on the job for this capacity enhancement.

But that is not all, Air India’s non-stops to Sydney and Melbourne also seem to be getting some great response. Remember, when the airline launched the route it was a Delhi/Melbourne/Sydney/Delhi routing. Then they quickly changed it to make it 3 days to Melbourne and 4 days to Sydney. That is set to change, with both the stations now getting 5 days a week coverage from Delhi.

a group of people standing next to a plane

So now we know where new capacity with the Boeing 787-8s will go as well. I recently tried out the Business class on the Boeing 787-8 and I came back feeling good about it.

I think this is some terrific route planning by Air India, adding to existing segments where they can’t add new routes at the moment due to obvious reasons. Of course, with Air India, the dates are always a moving target, so let’s see how quickly they manage to really mount these flights.

What do you think of the plans of Air India to add new capacity to San Francisco and to Australia? 

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Ajay – Please correct this article, the flight won’t be double daily DEL – SFO. It will be a 3 daily BOM – SFO

  2. I hope that AI becomes the first airline in India to lease the A380. They could upgauge the flights to LHR, CDG, SFO, EWR and JFK with almost double capacity without the need to add additional frequencies.
    All these markets have enough demand to support a daily A380 non-stop operation to Delhi. Ajay – What are your thoughts?

    • @Narasu, I don’t think Air India can operate flights on a B777 without making a loss, so let’s not put so much capacity that yields go for a toss totally!

  3. Additional flights to the Bay Area & Australia ,the hub could be Bombay instead of Del.To Sfo capacity to be increased rather than adding flights.

  4. They need to bring a 777-300ER to the Bay Area not the 200 LR. Easier to add capacity (almost 100 seats\day each way) with a 300ER.
    Do you think they will have double daily on a couple of days to make it a 9 weekly flight? Any hints on timings for the new flight and how it will connect to their pan-India bank via Delhi?

    • @Bhojwani @Ramki, it depends on the range. The ER is short on range I presume for this mission, by 300 miles. I am not sure if the AI planes have extra tanks in them.

      • I read some chatter on some obscure aviation blogs that AI was negotiating for extra fuel tanks with Boeing for a few of the 77Ws. It seemed to imply that AI was not happy with the premium Boeing was asking for them and the talks had almost fallen through. Maybe they worked it out?

        • Alternately they could Payload restrict the 300ERs with lesser cargo or flying with some empty seats. Weren’t they in the news a couple of years back for payload restricting their BOM – EWR flights due to the Billboards outside Mumbai airport?

      • VT-ALW – 2nd new 77W on way from Everett to DEL today!

        I assume the AI thought process is additional SFO flights would go Atlantic way with 77W which can manage this range and Pacific flights will continue to be with 77L

  5. A good move as there are substantial cost advantages to AI.

    One would have thought a slightly different approach to serve the bay area would be undertaken, as recommended over a decade back by me.

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