- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Star Alliance
- Campbell Wilson
The longest flight between India and the US is set to resume next month. According to a recent report, Air India plans to restart direct flights between Bengaluru in South India and San Francisco in about a month. The service was suspended, citing poor demand due to COVID, but the airline is reportedly bringing it back.
Back on the map
Air India’s longest nonstop flight is set to resume soon. According to a report by ET Now, the carrier will start a twice-weekly nonstop service between Bengaluru (BLR) and San Francisco (SFO) from October end for its winter schedule.
The service was inaugurated during the COVID pandemic on January 10th, 2021. Flight AI 176 took off from San Francisco with four women pilots, 12 cabin crew members, and 238 passengers. It covered a distance of almost 14,000 km on the Atlantic route that had it fly over the North Pole.
Air India plans to resume BLR-SFO service from October end. Photo: Gcmap.com
Being an IT hub, Bengaluru is also on the list of US carriers, as many US West Coast-bound passengers originate from the city. However, nothing has materialized so far.
Suspended in March
Air India’s BLR-SFO service last flew in March, and people in the know cited poor demand for suspending the flight. The Times of India quoted an airline official at Bengaluru airport as saying,
“AI 175 took off from Bengaluru on Saturdays and Tuesdays while AI 176 from SF landed here on Mondays and Thursdays. But the COVID crisis and landing permit issues for the airline in the US saw disruption of the longest direct flight from South India to the US. Though operations resumed as the COVID situation eased, the flight didn’t have enough passengers.”
However, the ToI reports an AI officer saying that the flight was not suspended due to poor patronage but because of the carrier’s Boeing 777s undergoing an overhaul. The source added,
“The flights are getting ready for restart of the longest operation to the US in a big manner, which will be announced soon.”
Air India’s monopoly on the route
With the COVID situation improving, demand for more India-US flights is on the rise. Many people have taken to social media demanding better connectivity between Bengaluru and the US.
Air India also finds itself in an advantageous position to monopolize the route due to the current geopolitical developments. Both United and American Airlines are keen on establishing direct flights from Bengaluru to the US West Coast, but COVID and then the Russia-Ukraine conflict spoiled those plans.
Earlier this year, American Airlines once again halted plans for its long-delayed flight from Bangalore (BLR) to Seattle (SEA), which was initially set to debut in 2020. Many western airlines, including the ones in the US, are not overflying the Russian airspace, which is vital for an ultra-long-haul flight originating from Bengaluru.
Air India continues to fly over Russia and is, therefore, the only carrier as of now to be able to connect BLR with the US. The airline, in fact, is planning a significant expansion into the North American market by leasing five more Boeing 777-200LRs for these long flights.
Have you traveled on one of Air India’s previous BLR-SFO flights? What was your experience like? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Source: ET Now, The Times of India