Brian Sumers interviewed American Airlines Vice President – Planning Vasu Raja and says American is considering flying to Africa and India.
In fact he says that American could do this “once a second batch of Boeing 787 orders starts arriving next year.”
When American placed the order though they explained that the Boeing 787-8s would replace Boeing 767s, and that the 787-9s would replace Airbus A330s and Boeing 777-200s. In other words the order was to replace retiring aircraft, not for growth.
Nonetheless, Raja says they’re going to go to India and Africa and that they would likely fly to India from Philadelphia instead of Chicago where they last operated the flight.
That’s the airplane that is going to take us eventually to India and into Africa, and into markets which are very different from the ones that we have been in historically, but ones we believe will be very profitable,” said Vasu Raja, the airline’s vice president for planning.
Gateway of India, Mumbai
The funny thing is I only need to cite Vasu Raja himself for why American Airlines will not fly to India. This past summer he laid out the reasons in a meeting with employees.
- Fares are too low. “Even with the changes with the Middle East carriers, the reality is the fare environment to India has not changed at all. It’s a really really bleak fare environment. Often times fares are half the price of bargain fares to Europe.”
- Even Delta isn’t really making it work. “For as much press as was made on flying to India there still hasn’t been an announcement about anybody starting new service from the US to India either, and I imagine high fuel prices are probably a headwind for that as well. Who knows.”
- American doesn’t have a partner in India to help with connecting traffic. (Never mind that Delta outmaneuvered American to gain Jet Airways as a partner exclusively.) “They have a big partnership with Jet Airways, they have a carrier in India with which they can drive connections. So who knows how they’re doing the math on it.”
Now Raja says the problem was too many seats on a bigger aircraft, that their old onboard product was poor, and that they had undesirable flight times. Better flight times would allow customers to “connect to other flights” — though of course since the airline lost its Jet Airways partnership they still have no connectivity in India.
Over the summer Raja did acknowledge though that southern India (definitely not Delhi) could eventually make sense from Dallas Fort-Worth because “There is growing demand in places in South India, especially and interestingly enough from markets in the North Texas area.” He said that the 787-9 would make it easier, but “it’s still a little difficult for us….it’s still by no means the most profitable thing on the list.”
A Boeing 787 from Philadelphia to India though without connecting traffic on the other side of the equation? That seems incredibly far fetched.