American set for Delhi return

The US carrier is resuming service to India’s capital for the first time in almost a decade.

Delhi is returning to American Airlines’ network from October when the oneworld alliance member launches a new route from New York John F Kennedy (JFK).

The carrier said the service would “meet the strong local demand” for direct flights between the US and India. 

Beginning Oct. 31, American will begin flying three times per week to Delhi (DEL) using Boeing 777-200 aircraft. The route will operate daily during the peak winter vacation period from Nov. 17 to Jan. 3, 2022. 

American last served DEL nonstop from Chicago O’Hare (ORD) but halted the service from March 2012 blaming the “historical financial performance of the route” and the poor economic outlook at the time. Flights had operated since 2005 after the US and India signed an Open Skies agreement.

However, the carrier announced in February 2020 plans to resume nonstop operations to India following its new alliance with Alaska Airlines. American intended to begin daily Seattle (SEA)-Bengaluru (BLR) service in October 2020, but the launch was delayed because of the pandemic and is currently slated to start on Oct. 31, 2021.

According to data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser, American will compete with Air India and United Airlines in the New York-Delhi market. 

Air India currently serves JFK 4X-weekly as well as offering three flights per week between DEL and Newark (EWR). United also serves EWR-DEL daily. Collectively, Air India and United provide about 9,700 nonstop two-way weekly seats.

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O&D traffic between New York and Delhi totaled almost 350,000 two-way passengers during 2019, up from 333,000 during the previous 12 months. The latest figures provided by Sabre Market Intelligence shows O&D traffic of 141,000 passengers in 2020.

Looking at the wider New York-India market, Air India and United also fly from EWR to Mumbai (BOM), operating 3X-weekly and daily respectively. Delta Air Lines also launched a JFK-BOM route in late 2019 but the route was suspended in March 2020 and remains on hold.  

American’s planned Delhi service was announced as part of the latest expansion phase of its Northeast Alliance with JetBlue. The two carriers launched their first codeshare flights in February and a further 39 flights will be added in starting May 3.

The strategic partnership is allowing American to add new long-haul markets with JetBlue providing domestic feed. Other new long-haul routes being added to American’s network from New York include a seasonal service to Athens (ATH) and a year-round Tel Aviv (TLV) flight.

Photo credit:  Joe Pries