Air India Works With Delta To Repatriate US Citizens

With India’s flight ban still in place, Air India is working with Delta to repatriate US citizens stuck in the country. Air India is providing domestic connections for passengers as Delta operates the long-haul India-US flights. The first of these flights flew last Saturday, carrying 287 Americans from Mumbai to Atlanta.

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Delta is using a 777-200LR for these flights, the same plane it operates on the Mumbai-JFK route. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Providing a way home

India’s international flight ban has left thousands of foreign nationals stranded in India in these uncertain times. Air India is operating a number of repatriation flights for foreign nationals, including to Europe and the US, to help as many as possible. India has also allowed a number of countries to operate repatriation flights for its citizens.

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United is also operating repatriation flights from Delhi to San Francisco. Photo: Bill Abbott via Flickr

The US repatriation flights are being operated by Delta and United from New Delhi and Mumbai to San Francisco and Atlanta, respectively. Both these carriers previously flew commercial flights on similar routes (Delta flew to JFK, not Atlanta) which is probably why they were chosen for this mission.

The flight from Mumbai to Atlanta is operated as DL8875 and takes over 16 hours to complete. According to FlightAware, Delta has operated five of these flights since last week and is planning to continue operating the flights this week.

Air India is operating domestic flights to connect citizens from all over the country to Delhi and Mumbai. The airline is using its A320s to fly routes such as Hyderabad to Mumbai for this purpose. It also seems that the airline is also following strict social distancing measures, with only around 85 passengers on each A320. This represents just around half the capacity of the plane and this is likely to ensure separation between passengers in line with draft rules.

Repatriation flights becoming more common

As the situation in India with regards to COVID-19 further intensifies, more countries are planning repatriation flights. Japan, UK, New Zealand, and the US are only some of the countries with plans to operate flights. This is above Air India’s efforts to repatriate foreigners to Europe and other countries.

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Both JAL and ANA have flown a number of repatriation flights on behalf of Japan. Photo: Masakatsu Ukon via Wikimedia Commons

India is home to millions of foreign citizens. It’s likely we’ll see a number of other countries offering similar rescue flights. India’s international flight ban will most likely stay in place for the next few weeks, meaning these flights will be essential for anyone wishing to return home. Foreigners wishing to return to their home countries should contact their local embassies for details on any repatriation flights.


The US’ efforts to bring its citizens home is not surprising, considering that over 700,000 citizens reside in India. Air India’s domestic flights have been essential to ensuring everybody is able to access these flights. Delta and United have effectively become the country’s flag carriers in this case due to their role in this crisis. The partnership between Air India and Delta is a powerful symbol of partnership in these difficult times.

Has the flight ban affected you? Have you taken a repatriation flight? Let us know in the comments below.