American Airlines Inaugurates Flights From New York To Delhi

Friday evening marked a big occasion for American Airlines. The carrier officially inaugurated nonstop service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL). Operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, the route will run daily year-round. This marks the airline’s official return to India since the carrier cut its flights to New Delhi in 2012.

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American Airlines’ first commercial flight to India has taken off from New York nearly ten years after the airline cut operations to India. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The inaugural JFK-DEL flight

On Friday, November 12th, American Airlines flight 292 took off from New York-JFK bound for New Delhi. According to data from RadarBox.com, the aircraft operating the 6,350 nautical mile (~11,770 km) flight is registered as N717AN. This is a nine-year-old Boeing 777-300ER. Data shows that the aircraft took off from JFK at roughly 19:27 local time.

American Airlines Inaugurates Flights From New York To Delhi
AA292 shortly after taking off from New York to New Delhi. Photo: RadarBox.com

The flight is scheduled to depart JFK at 18:51 and arrive in New Delhi at 20:30 the next day. The flight is blocked at just over 15 hours. The return flight is scheduled to depart New Delhi at 00:55 and arrive in New York at 07:04. This flight is blocked at 16 hours and 39 minutes. All times are local. Note that these schedules include padding, and American may adjust its flight schedules in the future. Airlines routinely pad their schedules to allow for a buffer if any delays impact the arrival and departure times.

American Airlines’ flights to India depart from JFK’s Terminal 8. Here, passengers will be able to enjoy easy connections from other American Airlines flights. Flagship First and Flagship Business customers can access the Flagship Lounge at JFK. An Admirals Club is also available for customers who have lounge access through a co-brand credit card or membership.

American Airlines Inaugurates Flights From New York To Delhi
This will mark the first time since 2012 that American has flown commercial flights to India. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

American Airlines returns to India

American Airlines last flew to New Delhi in 2012, according to schedules from Cirium. The airline then operated daily flights to DEL from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) using a Boeing 777. Chicago is a hub for American Airlines, though American had difficulty making the route work and cut it, citing financial performance and high oil prices.

New Delhi was not the first city in India announced as part of the carrier’s return to the country. That distinction goes to Bangalore, which will be connected to Seattle starting next March. Seattle to Bangalore was announced as part of the carrier’s tie-up with Alaska Airlines and catered to business travelers going to the tech hub in India.

American Airlines Inaugurates Flights From New York To Delhi
American will offer a dedicated international first class cabin onboard its aircraft through March. Photo: American Airlines

Through March, American Airlines is putting its most premium aircraft on the route. The airline will operate JFK to DEL using a Boeing 777-300ER, the only widebody in American’s fleet to feature four distinct experiences. This includes a dedicated international first class cabin, branded as Flagship First, of which there are eight seats to choose from, and all are a lie-flat offering. Following this are 52 reverse herringbone lie-flat Flagship Business class seats. Then, there are 28 premium economy seats, which are similar to a domestic recliner-style first class product.

There are two economy class experiences. One includes Main Cabin Extra, which is the airline’s extra-legroom economy. Following this are 188 standard economy seats. American offers all passengers onboard this aircraft access to entertainment on-demand via a seatback screen. WiFi is available to all passengers, as is power access.

American Airlines Inaugurates Flights From New York To Delhi
Business class on the 777-300ERs is in a lie-flat reverse herringbone configuration. Photo: American Airlines

From next spring, the airline has downgauged the route to a Boeing 777-200ER. These planes have 273 seats with 37 lie-flat Flagship Business class seats, 24 premium economy seats, 66 extra-legroom economy seats, and 146 standard economy seats. The downgauge comes as American has scheduled its 777-300ERs to increase capacity to London and return to Hong Kong.

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The Northeast Alliance bolsters a competitive market

American Airlines is adding this flight from its New York – JFK hub. This airport has seen a lot of new long-haul international growth on the heels of the Northeast Alliance (NEA) with JetBlue. The two airlines are partnering with codeshares and efficiently utilizing their resources to create a viable third competitor in the New York City area. The JFK-DEL flight is part of that growth.

American Airlines Inaugurates Flights From New York To Delhi
American only has one route scheduled to India until at least next March. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

American will be the second US airline to fly to India. It will compete against United Airlines and Air India for nonstop operations to the country. United flies to Delhi from three US gateways: San Francisco (SFO), Chicago (ORD), and Newark (EWR). Separately, it flies to Mumbai (BOM) from Newark. From Delhi, Air India flies to San Francisco (SFO), Chicago (ORD), Washington D.C. (IAD), Newark (EWR), and New York (JFK) from Delhi. BOM, meanwhile, is connected to Newark (EWR). The final US route to India on Air India is a flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Bangalore (BLR).

With the Northeast Alliance, American Airlines has access to a larger connecting network on JetBlue and can market its options to JetBlue’s customers. It also gains a broader presence among New York-area consumers and corporate travelers who now have an option with one airline partnership to choose from for short-, medium-, and long-haul flying from the New York area.

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American sees a bright future in India. Photo: Getty Images

Delta Air Lines formerly used to fly to BOM from JFK. Operated with a Boeing 777-200LR, that route also marked the carrier’s triumphant return to India after the US secured agreements with the big three Middle Eastern airlines, whom Delta claimed received unfair subsidies that allowed them to, essentially, add excess capacity and spread rapidly across the US.

There are few signs that this will be the last of American’s growth to India. In addition to the expected Seattle to Bangalore flight, the airline has made some moves that indicate Mumbai (BOM) could be on the horizon. It would not be surprising to see American Airlines try to leverage its partnership with fast-growing IndiGo to unlock other cities in the country or add new flights to a city like New Delhi from other American hubs.

Friday’s launch of New York to New Delhi served as yet another testament to the strength of the NEA in growing the competitive air market in the Northeast. Without the partnership, it is all but impossible to imagine American adding flights to India from New York, a market where route opportunities massively expanded with JetBlue’s help.

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