Delta Will Fly New York – Mumbai This Year! (and Tells Some Fibs, Too)

Over 11 months ago Delta announced that they would fly to India. They did not say when it would happen, or the route they’d fly. And then.. crickets.

Last summer American Airlines CEO Doug Parker mocked Delta’s claim to be launching India service. An employee asked about American possibly serving India and he noted that Delta “said they’re gonna fly to India but they haven’t loaded a flight?” Vice President of Planning Vasu Raja pointed out that they haven’t even announced where they’ll fly and Parker declared, “well you can do that!” And so Raja then announced to laughter “At some point we’re going to fly to India too.”

Now, finally, Delta has announced that they will fly New York JFK – Mumbai starting December 22, over a year and a half after they announced they would fly to India again. The service will be operated by Boeing 777-200LR aircraft.

Taj Palace Mumbai

They’re lead in announcing this, by the way, is that they’re able to make these flights work because of the agreements made between the US, UAE, and Qatar that have nothing whatsoever to do with India flying.

  • The Gulf carriers have agreed to financial transparency (which Emirates already provided)
  • And they stated they did not currently have plans for new routes between the US and Europe

No limits were placed on their ability to fly between the US and Mideast. It’s those flights that are used to connect passengers between the US and places like India and Pakistan. And the agreement changes nothing whatsoever there.

Moreover Delta claims,

Delta first offered service between the U.S. and Mumbai beginning in 2006, but was forced to suspend the service in 2009 as illegally subsidized Middle East carriers made the route untenable.

That’s a rather.. creative.. reading of history.

  1. There was too much Gulf carrier service in 2009, so Delta had to stop flying. There is more US-Mideast flying by Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad today than there was in 2009, yet somehow it’s no longer a threat.

  2. Delta believed in 2008 that – despite Gulf carrier competition – new India service was warranted and announced the November 2018 launch of Atlanta – Mumbai.

  3. The major threat that was new when Delta scaled back service was the financial crisis and Great Recession.

The truth of course is that Delta will fly non-stop between New York and Mumbai in competition with United and Air India, and they are interested in doing so because as they also say,

Demand for flights between the U.S. and India has increased significantly in the last decade, and New York is the largest U.S. market to India with the largest base of corporate customers.

Gateway of India, Mumbai

Delta is a very good airline (with a poor frequent flyer program). They have a good business class product if you avoid their 767s. They run a good operation. And they have generally friendly service. Unfortunately they can’t promote their quality product and service, they have to distract and lead with a political campaign designed to limit American consumer choice and raise prices, using the government to transfer wealth from consumers to their shareholders. They can earn a profit running a good business, instead they prefer to seek additional profits using political means.

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, 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. I don’t always agree with you but I’m this case the noise about the ME3 is just that it is noise and being used to solicit extra publicity for this. It is supper funny to me that the “best” US carrier has to go to these absurd lengths to belittle the competition instead of just promoting all of the positives they do everyday. Seems like maybe they don’t believe their own press as much as their customers do.

  2. Delta’s memory seems to be short. DL had DL planes in Bombay even some years before 2006; but that was with the DL planes flying US-CDG-BOM.

  3. DL had been flying to India, first via Frankfurt and then via CDG and AMS. They had inherited (bought?) the India routes when Pan Am went under.

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