Air India has announced in an update, dated July 17, that it will fly an additional 180 flights between India and the USA. The flights will come under phase four of Vande Bharat mission and operate between July 22 and August 31, 2020. Passengers will be able to fly non-stop from Mumbai and Delhi to/from New York, Chicago, Newark, San Francisco, and Washington DC. Bookings for the above flights have already opened on July 18 at 8 PM IST (10:30 hrs EST).
Air India will provide onward connections in both directions. Incoming passengers into India will have the opportunity to connect to Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad. Passengers traveling into the US can book onward domestic connections on Star Alliance partners subject to availability.
The schedule for India-US flights from July 22 to August 31 is as follows:
- AI 103: Delhi – Washington DC (thrice-weekly)
- AI 191: Mumbai – Newark (daily)
- AI 127: Chennai – Hyderabad – Delhi – Chicago (daily)
- AI 173: Bengaluru – Kochi – Delhi – San Francisco (six weekly)
- AI 101: Mumbai – Ahmedabad – Delhi – New York (daily)
Moreover, there has been a considerable drop in prices. Air India had charged every passenger on Phase one – Phase three flights a minimum amount of 100,000 INR ( 1335 $) on a one-way sector. The prices were reduced to 75,000 INR (1000 $) in Phase four after many passengers spoke up against the very high prices. This time, the prices have further reduced to 50,000 INR (667 $), which is somewhat understandable.
Concerns over monopoly and possible alternatives
Over the last few months, Air India has exercised a monopoly over the passenger demand into and out of India. Although the major motive of Vande Bharat flights was the repatriation of Indian citizens, most of Air India’s trips into the US went beyond that. The airline has, at the same time, made a considerable amount of profit by flying passengers out of India.
On the other hand, the Indian government continued to ban international carriers from entering India. When the aviation authorities in other countries raised their voice against this unjust activity, Indian aviation authorities formulated bilateral agreements with certain countries.
As a result of this, United Airlines is permitted to fly into Delhi starting today. It will operate 18 services on Delhi – Newark and Delhi – San Francisco route between July 17 and July 31. Additionally, unlike previous allowances, United Airlines has the permit to carry India-bound passengers. Earlier, the flights were flying empty on Delhi bound sectors.
Other countries like France and Germany have agreed to a similar system, and Air France has already released a schedule. The airline will be fly 28 flights between Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Paris from July 18 to August 1.
Vande Bharat in numbers
According to the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry, 2,362 repatriation flights were operated under the Vande Bharat Mission until July 16. In total, 316,000 passengers have flown in/out of India. Of these, 1,180 were inbound flights carrying 2,22,773 passengers, and 1,182 were outbound flights with 93,620 fliers.
Will you be traveling out of/into India soon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.