Air India US Air Bubble operations cut down by 60%

Just a few days ago, I wrote about how Air India was going to operate over 180 flights from India to the USA and back in July – August 2020. This new set of operations was opened up after Air India got the go-ahead from the US Department of Transport, which earlier wanted them to have every flight scrutinised.

However, it seems either Air India has been told to go slow on this version of the Vande Bharat Mission, or they don’t see enough demand for this round of flights. It could also be that the receiving states said, they did not want so many people landing up every day. There has been a sharp cut to the number of flights now.

Here is the initial flight plan for late July-August 2020, which showed 193 flights in total between India and the USA and back.

a table with a number of flights

Here is the new schedule, which was updated by Air India on July 22, 2020.

Here are the flights from India to the USA. Like you can see, all the daily flights have now been moved to 3 times a week, which means about 60% cut in flights on each route (earlier 7 times a week now it becomes 3 times a week). That means 193 flights become only 83 flights through the end of August 2020.

a table with black text

It is the same thing for the USA to India flights.

a table with a schedule

I won’t try to get ahead of myself trying to figure out of the reason of why these flights have been cut by 60%, but this is bad news for those who hoped to fly from the USA to India in wake of CoVid-19 and lost jobs. Let us hope United and Delta can fill the gaps in this case.

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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. Can we expect that United Airline will also operate at same capacity as Airindia`s VBM5 (DEL—EWR/JFK) as a part of Airbubble arrangement with US DOT ? I am assuming GOI must have to approved same number what DOT approved for Airindia. Any thougts ?

  2. Sir You know How stranded people manage here in UAE who has lost thier Jobs there is no help from Indian Ambassy also for such people and at this Moment also Air lines wanted robb these people who doesnt even have enough to feed themselves,this is a real injustice.

    Many people has lost thier patience and Soon people will start commiting suicides after that I think the Government of India will understand thier pain

  3. Sir You know How stranded people manage here in UAE who has lost thier Jobs there is no help from Indian Ambassy also for such people and at this Moment also Air lines wanted robb these people who doesnt even have enough to feed themselves,this is real injustice.

    Many people has list thier patience and Soon people will start commiting suicides after that I think the Government of India will understand thier pain

  4. Am trying to contact customer care but no body is replying even after after long wait line get connect ….what are the norms to be followed to fly from EWR Bom

  5. There are more than 4 lakh Indian citizens stranded in Dubai as per the consulate general of India in Dubai and these are registered to go back to India in their website. But unable to go back to India due to less flights operating.
    One thing we need to understand if a citizen of India under pressure to go back to India from where he/she distressed means either they were lost the job or unable to manage the expenses or might be visited that country as a tourist on short term plan.
    Now almost 4 months over government of India not allowing every body to return to India and only few people getting approval to go back from Indian embassy of that respective country. Why can’t they allow every one to return and who is paying their residing cost.
    All these decisions looks like harassment for normal people.
    Why can’t they take their own citizen back by allowing every one in the repatriation flights by adding more flights in there fleet. Any way they are charging heavily at this moment equals to two way cost to one way cost.

    Hope government will take quick decision in operating normal flights.

    • why is that problem of Indian Taxpayers?

      You take that risk when you go to a foreign country, correct?

  6. So many people are stuck in gulf country like bahrain .Kuwait..and other… need to start gulf country flight ….this is meck political ..coz in USA have election. Thets why he start flight coz people go USA and give vote for trump.. plz plz plz start normal flight for gulf country…plz plz plz

  7. All this drama of Vande bharat was a ploy by the Govt of India to make money for the struggling AI.
    When they were caught in this act, the foreign govts smartly put a stop to this nonsense till their carriers were allowed to fly to India as well. The govt gave in to this and now that other airlines are in the play as well, AI has cut their fares which were horrendous anyway and has now cut the number of flights.
    Dont they realise people can see through their devious minds?

      A Canadian Experience and Response.

      • Dear sir, the VBM flights are operated by Government of India, using the national carrier Air India. I had a return journey ticket from USA to India which flight for which was cancelled in covid 19, When I enquired to reschedule the travel date under VBM I was told that the fare of the ticket will be adjusted but I will have to pay Rs.15700 + odd as VBM Government charges, Hence the Air India was getting only the ticket fare but extra was pocketed by the the Government. In spite of it Government want to sell Air India to Private Corporates, though it prove to be a golden egg laying hen.

    • They looted passengers in distress to fill in their empty coffers.we demand a CBI inquiry and resignation of Civil Aivation Minister of India.They have exploited those in distress.

  8. Is Air India providing BLANKETS AND PILLOWS in Vande Bharat Mission flights from SFO to DEL, please reply anyone having correct information

  9. I am senior citizen looking to travel SFO to Mumbai on Air India. Hoping for this direct flight as AI had only one in early May. Awaiting.

    • Plz keep checking regularly the site for evacuation flight schedule under difference phases, you will find find flight between SFO to Delhi and then Delhi to Mumbai under VBM, in which case you need not get quarantined at Delhi.

  10. Unfortunately the flights are only from 4 or 5 airports in US. The authorities concerned forget the undisputed fact that there are many other big airports in big cities of US where thousands of Indiancitizens are either stranded or waiting for resumption of international flights.
    Many find it difficult to travel from their place to reach the so called airports which are scheduled now.
    This vital fact escaped the notice of the authorities or they conveniently ignore its importance.

    • @Jayakrishnan, why can’t people who want to fly back to India fly to these airports and then connect on the flights operated if they really wanted to. I mean, you can’t expect Air India to create new infrastructure or buy new planes to go to Houston, for instance, or to Anchorage to pick up a few people. The people have to arrive at a major airport. Even on flying to India, the gateway is usually just Delhi Airport, and people connect to other cities. I am not sure why do “many find it difficult to travel from their place to reach the so-called airports?”

      • The same applies to civil aviation ministry to allow Air France and Lufthansa to get link Service from other Airportsources like Kochi and Chennai. ..

      • The problem other way is also there. Though there are many domestic flights from delhi( point of entry from USA), it appears there is restriction for international arrivals to take any available domestic flight to reach places like Chennai. Can it be clarified? Air India has only restricted feeder service.

  11. Sir suggest to kindly lift travel ban on oci card holders to visit India on family compelling reasons nonemergency conditions. Also restore British airways flight Atlanta to Bangalore via London to help elderly and sickly persons with Wheelchair facility. Thanks.

  12. This means no connections earlier offered to places like chennai or hyderabad or cochin. One has to book these domestic tickets separately, which may also mean many people have to quarantine in Delhi or Mumbai before connecting??

    • Yes, one has to undergo paid quarantine in Delhi. Be careful about Vande Bharat, don’t go by the name.

    • Through air bubble flight united operates daily flight from Newark to Delhi. Through their portal one could book from Newark to Chennai by united/vistara. Is there any hitch to take connecting vistara flight at Delhi after custom clearance? The united arrives at Delhi at 9.45pm and vistara from Delhi to Chennai is at 7.20 next morning

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