Air India. Look up the definition of basket case then merge it with the term ‘airline’ and you’ll find them there front row and center.
It’s been many years now since Air India (AI) was ever considered anything more than a flailing government play toy and propaganda tool so forgive us if we sometimes come across as a bit dismissive of anything coming out of Delhi regarding AI.
But some subtle changes do seem to be afoot at Air India, all for the better. It could be because of the airline’s entrance into Star Alliance not too long back and the way they were forced by the organization to at least partially clean up their act before they were allowed entry. Or it could be the arrival of Jet Airways onto the scene and the emergence of them as a relevant player on the international market. Or possibly the airline’s management are finally realizing that India has over 1 billion people to tap into as a domestic market alone, and that hubs such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore are finally getting the infrastructure they need and deserve.
Regardless, we like what we’re seeing at AI and this latest rumor is no different.
After launching what has turned out to be their very highly successful San Fransisco non-stop flights from India, the airline are now looking further east to provide what they dub a ‘capital to capital’ service from their New Delhi (DEL) hub to fellow Star member United’s hub in Washington DC (IAD). Believe it or not, these two cities have no non-stop service between them – and it makes it all the more remarkable given that both cities are massive Star hubs.
So to set things straight to begin with: we are just picking up rumblings from within the industry. Nothing official has been announced by either airport authority or the airline itself.
But let’s just say it’s a case of sooner rather than later with this one.
According to the Economic Times of India:
Travelers between India and North America will soon be spoilt for choice. Air India is planning more flights to the continent, by launching routes like a Delhi-Washington “capital connect”.
“We are looking at some cities in US for adding to our network. This expansion will be done with our existing aircraft and the flights will be operated by sweating the assets more (meaning making more extensive use of planes and crew). We are in talks with US airports which have traffic demand to and from India. Whichever airports gives us the best deal, we will opt for that.That could be Washington or any other city there,“ said a senior AI official.
AI is the only Indian carrier that has direct flights to North America as Jet goes only to one city there, Toronto, via Amsterdam.