Air India Halts Hong Kong Ticket Sales For Summer 2020

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Air India has put its summer plans for Mumbai to Hong Kong on ice and suspended ticket sales on its website. Whilst the airline has not confirmed the reasons why, we can only suspect it is due to financial problems and the massive decrease in Hong Kong demand.

Air India 777 Special LIvery
Air India is no longer selling direct tickets from Mumbai to Hong Kong. Photo: Air India via Facebook

What are the details?

According to CAPA, Air India has stopped selling tickets to Hong Kong from Mumbai for Summer 2020.

Air India
The route was supposed to run year-round daily flights. Photo: GC Maps

The flights were originally pitched back in June 2019, and announced via twitter:

The daily service only started on the 19th of September last year (2019 for those who haven’t caught up yet) with a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Air India planned to change the route over the summer to the following configuration.

Outbound
Flight Number: AI316
Departing Mumbai (BOM) at 8:20 AM, arriving in Hong Kong (HKG) at 1650 PM local time

Inbound
Flight Number: AI311
Departing Hong Kong (HKG) at 1805 PM, arriving in Mumbai (BOM) at 2150 PM the same day.

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However, it now seems that they have decided to cancel this route entirely and taken ticket sales offline. The sale ticket available for purchase is on the 29th of March 2020 until well after summer on the 24th of October 2020.

Passengers looking to travel during that time from this airport to Hong Kong might have to settle for the Cathay Pacific service.

Why did Air India drop this route?

Three main theories might explain why Air India decided to drop this route from their summer network.

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The first is that Hong Kong isn’t an attractive money maker at this time. Thanks to the unrest in the city, tourism has massively decreased and likely many domestic passengers are in no rush to travel there.

Additionally, Air India doesn’t have the through traffic like Cathay Pacific does (Hong Kong is their hub) and anyone who did want to travel onwards would be flying Cathay Pacific (who already serves Mumbai).

Air India, Mumbai, London Stansted
Air India has launched a new route to London using a Boeing 787. Photo: Tim Winter | London Stansted Airport

The second theory would be that Air India is cash poor at the moment and needs to squeeze as much out of its route network as they can. If a Boeing 787-8 is flying empty to Hong Kong every day, and they have to pay the associated wages, landing fees and other costs, it doesn’t make much sense. This ties nicely into the last theory.

Therefore, the airline needs the aircraft and Mumbai landing slots to fly their new London route. If the first two theories are also correct, then switching the resources from Hong Kong to London makes financial sense.

We should also consider why they would bring the route back in October. Now, that route might vanish again when we get to the middle of summer, but likely Air India’s Hong Kong to Mumbai trade rapidly increases during the holiday period (and like us, they might be hoping Hong Kong settles down by then).

What do you think of this news? Would you have flown on this route? Let us know in the comments.

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