A couple of months ago I laid out an argument that American Airlines wouldn’t fly to India or Dubai.
American dropped its codeshares with Etihad and Qatar, which provided connections through to India and Pakistan that American cannot match with service from British Airways. They lost their partnership with India’s Jet Airways to Delta. But now that the dispute with Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar is over there’s been speculation that American could serve India itself or even the UAE.
Gateway of India, Mumbai
My argument was that the lack of a partner providing connecting traffic made this hard, and that the need to use expensive aircraft (versus, for instance, a Boeing 767 due to distance) made this an expensive experiment to try especially when American has shown little appetite for expanded long haul flying.
At a ‘Crew News’ meeting of employees with American’s senior management, the airline laid out why they aren’t likely to serve India any time soon. An employee asked Vasu Raja, American’s Vice President Network Planning, since Gulf carriers are cutting back their US flying and Delta plans to fly to India, whether American would consider it.
Raja explained the reasons India does not make sense for American Airlines.
- 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.”
- Eventually Southern India could make sense with future aircraft. “There is growing demand in places in South India, especially and interestingly enough from markets in the North Texas area… in the future where we have more long range 787-9 airplanes it could become something that’s more in the decision set.”
- Actually, no one is really adding flights there. “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.”
Doug Parker asks, “So they said they’re gonna fly to India but they haven’t loaded a flight?”
Raja points out that not only haven’t they loaded a flight into the schedule, they haven’t even announced what the flight will be. Parker then declares, “well you can do that!”
And so Raja announces “At some point we’re going to fly to India too.”
- Delta has a local partner in India, while American does not. (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. But it’s still a little difficult for us. It’s made easier in a world where we have more 789s but it’s still by no means the most profitable thing on the list.”
Don’t expect American Airlines to fly to India any time soon.