Is American Airlines Planning to Launch Service to India This Year?

The Times of India is reporting that American Airlines is planning to re-start service to India — as early as this year.

Flyers between India and the US will soon be spoilt for choice with a slew of new nonstops on the anvil.

American Airlines (AA), which had pulled out of India route in early 2012 after its parent company filed for bankruptcy, is now planning to restart operations to the US very soon from here.

…”AA merged with US Airways in 2013 and formed one of the biggest airlines in the world. The merger is now almost over and the new AA is keen to restart flights to India at the earliest. That may happen this year itself,” said a source.

Now, this is based on an unnamed source. However,

While it’s not clear that Delhi would win out over serving Mumbai, and unclear which hub they would offer service from (American used to serve Delhi from Chicago O’Hare), it’s notable that American has been introducing Asia Pacific routes predominantly from Los Angeles. Last year American told us new Asia routes would be from Los Angeles.

They recently added a Sydney flight (with an improved inflight service). They’re adding Auckland, New Zealand. And they’re adding Tokyo Haneda service along with Los Angeles – Hong Kong.

Personally I’d love to see Hollywood – Bollywood non-stop, Los Angeles – Mumbai though Delhi always seems the safer bet for new routes. I’d bet that if something happens, it will be an announcement this year but that service won’t begin until 2017.


Gateway of India, Mumbai

(HT: @Roar_Singh)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. LAX – BOM sounds like a terrible idea – most Indians in the LA area are not from BOM and LAX would not be a logical connecting point for most people in the US.

    I’m biased but believe ORD – DEL should be the route they return to first. Why?

    1. NYC is already well served by AI and UA (EWR – BOM and EWR – DEL). For *A, DEL is a better location because (a) it’s better from a great circle route perspective and (b) offers far better connecting options.

    2. DFW – too far south.

    3. MIA – low O&D for India-bound traffic.

    4. CLT – low O&D for India-bound traffic and not anywhere that AA is expanding international from.

    It could be PHL given the huge Indian population in NJ but I think ORD would be a more logical option. There’s enough DEL-bound traffic because North Indians, primarily Punjabis, are the heaviest VFR travelers. While the largest Indian population in the US is Gujurati (usually from the state of Gurjat or BOM), most of them have a large portion of their families here. There is also a large South Indian population in the US but they prefer ME3 because they aren’t focused solely on BLR/HYD/MAA. There is a very small (relatively) East Indian population and CCU is not an economically ascendant city.

    So it really should be DEL but I guess it could still be BOM. Even if it is BOM, you can see that ORD is for the vast majority of the Indian-American population, the better connecting point: http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=dfw+-+lax+-+bom,+dfw+-+ord+-+bom

    As the article you quoted points out, AI is doing very well on SFO – DEL but SFO has a way, way larger Indian population than LAX.

  2. It will be ORD. Just look at the overflight map and consider the feeder traffic. Its what they used to do – for a reason – and Air India still does, for a reason.

  3. “Delhi always seems the safer bet for new routes.”

    Can you unpack that?
    Is it… size of metro? wealth of metro? or distance from US hubs?

  4. Why did you delete my post? Because I shared a GCMAP link showing why ORD is a far better connecting point than LAX or sharing information about the demographics of the Indian American population? I’m confused. I didn’t say anything offensive.

  5. @AnonCHI – I’m not actually RECOMMENDING Los Angeles – Mumbai. I just love saying “Hollywood – Bollywood”

    The 777-300ER should be able to service DFW-DEL. It’s only 63 miles longer than DFW-HKG. And LAX-DEL is shorter than both of those routes.

  6. @ Gary – I appreciate that 🙂 Oddly enough, the original post is back now. It disappeared for a while.

    Thanks for breaking this story to the US public. TOI is a well known newspaper but stopped reading it ages ago – too many popups.

  7. SFO->BLR is going to be on the map for Air India soon…
    While Bengaluru is the fastest growing airline hub in India its reached almost half(18M) of Mumbai’s Pax(35M)
    This would be a virgin route via LHR ( That’s the hub they could get slots easily i guess)
    But how would they do a transatlantic SFO?
    They could catch up at NYC/EWR or PHL to Bangalore/Chennai or Mumbai/Delhi who already got couple of direct flights(Air India)

  8. I mean, who doesn’t love being “spoilt for choice on the anvil”? I mean, that’s a typical Wednesday for me.

  9. Actually the single largest segment of the LA Indian population is from Bombay unlike the Silicon Valley Indian population which tends to be more South Indian. They tend to be Sindhis involved in business, the Hollywood Bollywood crowd etc and not techies like in SV

  10. As a former AA employee. I agree with Danny. AA has been handed a golden route on a platter if it’s serious about flying to Asia. Yes, LAX BKK, it’s not being served by any westcoast city..Both Los Angeles and San Francisco have large populations of Thai and added to the eastcoast Thai, not to mention the tourist factor for connections, it could be a profit maker. Now profil is AA’s middle name. Why,. was ORD DEL canceled ? simply, it did not make money as the merger had nothing to do with the suspension. IF, and it’s a big IF AA wanted to get serious they could operate LAX BKK SGN LAX. LH at one time was operating a route FRA BKK SGN and return. Think about it carries Thai and Vietnames nationals plus tourist to two of the great cities of Asia on one aircraft. Going back into India ORD DEL, just doesn’t make sence.

  11. American recently updated their award chart allow transpacific awards to india. It used to be transatlantic only. American has also split up India from middle east in award charts. I would place my bets on lax-bom. Air india already operates to sfo, so lax seems the obvious west coast choice. Bom could be the gateway for passengers connecting to the entire southern part of india.

  12. Recommend EWR – BOM

    EWR is much better airport( less congestion) with decent conecting flts in US, Large Poulation from NY,NJ,PA, Del& MD.
    BOM -convenient for south ,East & North India. Decent connecting flts to all cities.. New Airport.

    Recently Jet Air discontinued their service from EWR_BOM ,not popular due to stopover in Brussels.
    Present Air India & united flts can not cope with demand.

  13. I am expecting it will be ORD-DEL but time will tell.

    With lower jet fuel prices around this time and the US market recovery, this route coming back wouldn’t really surprise me.

  14. I was thinking that AA actually embraced the acronym “India” permanently. ORD-DEL is brutal in economy but slightly better than DEL-ORD.

  15. I’m very skeptical that AA will launch service to India because the growth of the massively subsidized Mideast carriers makes it unprofitable to transport economy class passengers between the USA and the Indian subcontinent. This is really the only major market where a Mideast stopover makes any logistical sense, so most of the USA passengers on Emirates/Etihad/Qatar are headed that way. They are pricing way below the actual cost of providing this transportation.

    The only way such nonstop service to India could work is if there’s enough premium cabin demand. Presumably there are biz travelers who would prefer to save time by not stopping in the Middle East or Europe. I’m pretty sure this is the reason UA’s EWR-India flights have (so far) survived. But I don’t think AA has as good an opportunity as UA’s EWR hub. And, heck, I’m not even sure those Newark flights are profitable these days.

  16. Gary, Is there any update on this route yet? I will be traveling to USA from India around March-2017. I would be happy to redeem my Etihad Guest miles on this if its available by then.

  17. Today there are no direct flight from ANY airlines from Houston or Dallas where both locations have 5-6 connecting flight to India everyday. Way bigger market than any place in US after East Coast.

    I would say starting from AA home ground Dallas would be best if they can start direct flight to anywhere in India

  18. By my views If Air India is sending their 777-300 ER flight like BOM-DEL-JFK ,HYD-DEL-ORD . So, American Airlines also can send their 777-300ER or B787 like DFW-LAX-DEL or MIA-EWR-DEL and many more.Air India from 17 July 2017 will be having 4 destinations to USA so American should also have atleast one destination in India.

  19. We have been listening to this for a long time. Only RUMORS. Nothing in reality because Middle Eastern Airlines are flying US-Middle East-India at very cheap prices. They can afford to do that b/c they have lot free oil and the Govts subsidies the Airlines. Dream Dream Dream.

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