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Delta, United challenge Air India, Gulf carriers on US-India routes

Air India and Emirates account for 36 per cent of market share of India-US air traffic and their dominance has come under challenge with US airlines launching new services to India.

United launched a daily San Francisco-Delhi flight earlier in the month and Delta will begin its New York – Mumbai service next week offering customers more non stop travel options “This is a good time for Delta to be in Indian market,” said airline’s sales director (Africa, Middle East and India) Jimmy Eichelgruen. He pointed out to the growth in trade and trave between the two countries and said the new flight beginning December 24 will give Indian passengers easy onward connections to 50 cities in the US.

Harvinder Singh, United’s country manager in India said launch of new flight will give customers more choice and connections from San Francisco to 40 other destinations across US and Canada.

Over 5.4 million passengers flew between two countries in twelve months ending September. Emirates is the largest carrier on India-US market with a 20 per cent share of passenger traffic. Air India which operates 33 flights per week has a share of 16 per cent and Qatar Airways takes third place with 11 per cent. Air India’s share increased from 11 per cent four years ago to 16 per cent now as it introduced new flights to San Francisco and Washington.

Delta had a strong commercial partnership with Jet Airways which shut operations in April. While it does not have strong partner within India, Delta’s European partners are filling up the void. While KLM has added flights from Amsterdam to Mumbai and Bengaluru, Virgin Atlantic has launched extra flights from London to India.

Delta, which has been targeting Gulf carriers for unfair government subsidies, had earlier said the new service to India would not have been possible without US government efforts to ensure free competition. Airlines from West Asia control around 40 per cent of India-US traffic. Delta flew non stop to India between 2006-2009 and later on Amsterdam-Mumbai route and withdrew from India in 2015.

Source: Business Standard