A few days ago, the score was settled between the United States and the Big 3 Middle East carriers, with the USA and UAE reaching an agreement on the Open Skies battle that lasted a long time. Qatar had already signed an agreement to this effect earlier this year.
There wasn’t much in it for the American carriers, who had made much ado about nothing. They’d always said their business suffered due to the ME3 carrying traffic between the USA and the other parts of the world. Funny enough, they never managed to convince anyone with that argument, and they never brought up the fact that they had an uncompetitive product altogether.
United has had an uncompetitive product operating in the Indian market for the longest time. It works because it is non-stop from Newark to Delhi/Mumbai. Similarly, Air India also has non-stops to Newark and New York JFK operating from Delhi/Mumbai.
American Airlines killed their Chicago Delhi flight in 2012 due to their reorganisation. Delta couldn’t make it work, so they withdrew from the market, first converting a non-stop between Mumbai and New York from their NorthWest Airlines times to a one-stop via Amsterdam, and then closing the flight in 2015 altogether. Jet Airways also killed their connections to the USA (first reducing from 2 flights to one flight by killing the JFK route, then killing the EWR flight next).
But now, Delta is seemingly walking back on that statement where they said India did not work for them. They laid the blame at the door of the ME3 always, anyways. In an interview to the WSJ, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said,
Delta Air Lines Inc. Chief Executive Ed Bastian said an agreement between the U.S. and two Persian Gulf states affords new protections to U.S. airlines that make it worth restarting service to foreign destinations that could include India.
CNBC reports, on the other hand, quoting Ed Bastian again.
“We’ve been hurt in India,” he said, although he did not specify which cities Delta is planning to add. He said routes currently served by those three Gulf carriers is “ripe for our opportunity to fly.”
So, while the airline uses the ME3 as their reason for being uncompetitive in the market, in reality, there are other reasons why they may now look at India as a market.
Firstly, they now have a partner in Jet Airways in India. Jet Airways even signed a metal-neutral pact with Delta’s transatlantic JV partners KLM/Air France to cooperate on flights between India and Europe by the 3 carriers. And 9W launched new flights to Paris and Amsterdam. KLM returned to Mumbai after so many years as well.
Secondly, they also have newer generation planes, such as the A350-900, which is now capable of flying the mission between Delhi/Mumbai and New York for instance, non-stop. And not to forget, the produce is better than what they flew to India in 2015.
While they have nowhere said this directly, there is chatter about the fact that Delta is considering a new flight to India. However, we still don’t know what city pair they’d intend to start on.
There are many reasons for Delta to look at India again and their friendship with Jet Airways, and the aircraft they have in their fleet are a couple of them. Competing with Emirates, Etihad or Qatar shouldn’t really be a worry. But those $400 fares with WOW Air entering the country later in the year… umm…
But perhaps that would make an easier justification to close the loop on their earlier argument. Anyhow, Delta should be back in India, and we just need to see when and where? And if people would
What do you think about Delta’s return to India? I’d rather have Jet Airways put a non-stop to the USA again…