Mumbai-US direct connectivity crashes: From 21 weekly on 3 airlines to just 3 AI flights

NEW DELHI: From weekly 21 non-stop flights to just three now, Mumbai’s direct connectivity with the United States has taken a severe hit from pre-pandemic times even after the resumption of regular international flights. The Maharashtra capital used to have a daily to Newark (EWR) on Air India and United each, separately from a daily Delta to New York (JFK Airport).
While Delta suspended this route in March 2020, United did so after Russia’s war on Ukraine. Air India now has a thrice weekly to Newark — which is the only non-stop flight to the US from Mumbai as of now.
So despite the huge demand for direct travel created by the pandemic, a vast majority of travelers between Mumbai and the US have to take one-stop flights via hubs like those in Gulf/Europe or Singapore (for those heading to the west coast).
Asked if AI plans to increase frequency of Mumbai-New York flights or have non-stops to some other US destinations from here, the airline spokesperson said: “There are no immediate plans to enhance frequencies on these sectors now. With the addition of fleet, Air India will certainly look at enhancing its operations in the sector/s mentioned.”
This summer, AI will be operating 44 weekly non-stops to North America — 34 to US and 10 to Canada. The airline will be able to add flights when it inducts more long haul aircraft in its fleet. It is likely to place an order for wide-body aircraft soon.
After the Ukraine crisis, United has temporarily suspended two India routes — Delhi-San Francisco and Mumbai-Newark. It, however, continues to operate daily between Delhi and Chicago and Newark each.
“We are constantly evaluating our schedule and look forward to restoring service between New Delhi and San Francisco and between Mumbai and New York/Newark as soon as feasible. Our plan through the end of May 2022 is to operate two (currently operational) daily flights from India with Boeing 787-9 aircraft,” United had told TOI recently.
Mumbai-New York route has seen sustained travel demand from students, the diaspora, IT and regular businessmen, Thomas Cook India Ltd MD Madhavan Menon said. “When Air India offers an improved product, the non-stops between Mumbai and the US compete more effectively with the one-stops. Mumbai definitely needs more direct flights to North America, given the huge demand.”
Vistara has for months been evaluating leasing aircraft for direct flights to the US. But high fuel prices and a weak rupee have meant that a decision on launching the same remains elusive. American Airlines had last October started a daily on Delhi-JFK route and was looking at Mumbai with considerable interest.

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