Why American Airlines Won’t Fly to India or Dubai

Three years ago there were rumblings about American flying to Abu Dhabi and two years ago service to India.

Gateway of India, Mumbai

Delta will consider re-entering the India market and has had rumblings about Atlanta-Dubai because they’re claiming victory over Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar while getting absolutely nothing.

Yet this isn’t going to get the world’s largest airline, American Airlines, to serve either the UAE or India.

  1. American Airlines has no appetite for ultra long haul flying. They’ve pretty much said they aren’t going to start service to places like Singapore. It takes too much aircraft time, it’s hard for them to see markets like that being profitable.

    American Airlines at New York JFK

  2. American got outflanked by Delta, severing codeshares with Etihad as part of Delta’s campaign against the Gulf carriers, and losing out on partnering with India’s Jet Airways to Delta. As a result American has no partners on the other end of either UAE or India service. That means no feed for their flights, they’d be relying entirely on origination and destination traffic.

    Etihad Business Class

    They don’t like to serve markets under those conditions and indeed they lost tens of millions of dollars flying Chicago – Shanghai that way.

  3. They cant fly Boeing 767s there as a cheap test for destinations that far. American likes to use less expensive planes as they try out new markets (see for instance 767s to Prague and Budapest).

    Boeing 767 Business Class

At this point American’s working model of where they’ll fly to is diametrically opposed to serving both India and the UAE.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Having flown frequently over that route, I really think AA or Delta don’t stand a chance compared to the likes of Emirates or Singapore airlines. I fly frequently for both business and leisure to India and Singapore from the US. The prices are almost the same as other carriers, but I’ve found the overall experience and service of Singapore Airlines and Emirates to be way superior than any of the legacy US carriers.

  2. Very good intel here.
    Frankly, I do not know one person who appreciates flying options who would ever voluntarily select a U.S. legacy carrier over any of the outstanding foreign carriers, as the difference is like “night and day,” whether in F, B, or Y.

  3. AA should know wisely to keep their hands off from such enterprises which only means money losing adventure. AA has enogh OW partners to work with. AA should improve their premium soft products more as it is not as good as their partners.

  4. You completely miss the boat here. Their brand equity is so low that no high-yielding passenger would be stuck on one of their planes for 16 hours. And they know that backpackers would not make those flights profitable.

    DL can make a go at it as they have the best brand equity (and profitability) of the US3 airlines; AA is at the bottom of the pile.

    That, sir, is the true truth.

  5. @Jake – Even though DL might make a go of it since they have the best profitability of the US3, UA is currently the only one of the group with flights to India, with two routes from EWR.

  6. I am a frequent traveller. I wouldn’t go by AA even if offered free tickets. SQ, EK are so much superior there is no comparison at all. US is stuck with AA and UA. Feel sorry for them.

  7. @Jake. I know lots of “high yield” customers who routinely travel for work in paid J and F and choose AA or UA or DL. Usually for schedule purposes or frequent flyer reasons, or corporate contracts. Or some some combination of the three. Just this weekend my friend in LA had to go to Singapore last minute for work. Paid business. He chose AA through Hong Kong. There’s a reason the big 3 US carriers are very profitable while some of those premium carriers are losing money (Cathay) or barely trodding along (Singapore). May not be as glamorous, but the us carriers are getting better. Maybe won’t have the very great service that Singapore, etc have, but they have the seats (mostly new or being installed), the schedule and the convenience. Wake up and be aware of how actual business travelers fly.

  8. @Jason – The US3 are very profitable because they have an unmatched domestic market while Cathay, SQ etc are entirely reliant on international and connecting traffic

  9. Even if the Middle East airlines were forced to operate on a for-profit basis, it’s improbable that AA would fly to India or Dubai anytime soon. There’s essentially no opportunity in Dubai: it has a relatively small population and is well served (over-served, of course) by its national airline.

    India is more of a long term possibility, if market or political forces were to reduce the number of below cost seats currently flown between the USA and India. AA would have no real reason to do this across the Atlantic, however. A New York hub is a so-much-better place to originate an India flight, as there are 3x as many Indians living in NYC than any other USA metropolitan area. PHL isn’t the strongest int’l gateway. So AA is so much better off routing its East Coast to India pax through London with its BA partnership.

    In a world without subsidized flying, it is conceivable that AA might fly to India some day from its LAX hub. To get their via the Middle East, you have to overfly India so it’s not ideal And LAX-DEL is only about 700 miles further than NYC-DEL. But the Indian population of Southern California is only 1/4 that of NYC. So there’s no way they would do this unless they had fair competition.

  10. Remember PanAm? They were International only and they are gone! An airline needs a mix of Domestic and International.

  11. Hope AA does not flu to India.
    It is hard enough to wiggle out of having to fly in Y on UA when cost sensitive clients literally forces you to. Bad staff/service, bad food, not-so-great equipment. If AA enters the market, yet another lousy option to wiggle out of. Hopeful, DL wil be easy to avoid as there will be plenty of codeshare with KL/AF/9W (For Europe to India segment, 9W seems to be best overall option at least in Y all factors considered)

  12. I don’t understand the hate for American Airlines. I fly them a lot and I absolutely love them. I fly them domestically and to Europe. As a matter of principle I refuse to fly any middle eastern airlines. American Airlines rocks and they are my favorite airline.

  13. @susan: you have no idea what you are missing. American carriers, and especially AA, have no clue what top-notch airline service is or should be. I fly them and UA domestically enough every year to have platinum or better status, but that’s only because, where I live, I have no other choice, except perhaps Southwest. I needn’t repeat what others have said so much more eloquently – many foreign carriers run circles around UA and AA when it comes to quality of service.

  14. It’s not like I would pick American or any other US carrier for a long-haul international flight anyway. Bad enough getting treated like garbage on domestic flights.

  15. Air Canada is doing this well with non-stops to BOM and DEL from both YYZ and YVR.

  16. Nobody with enough brains to count to six would fly AA to India ahead of an Asian Carrier or Etihad Nobody.

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