Delta Airlines will fly the Indian skies again after its four-year hiatus. The airline announced on Thursday that it will start flying nonstop from the US to Mumbai in 2019.
For now, details are sparse about the renewed Mumbai route whether the service will take off from JFK or Atlanta, although Delta Airlines previously flew from New York to Mumbai. The carrier also did not confirm the start date and whether it has a stopover.
Currently, United Airlines is the only US carrier that serves flights in India flying from its Newark hub to Mumbai and Delhi. Meanwhile, Air India is filling the gap with its several India-US routes.
Intense competition drove America’s airlines out of India; Delta’s last flight in India was in 2015 in a one-stop route that went from New York Kennedy to Amsterdam and on to Mumbai. However, the airline discontinued the service citing increasing competition from connecting services offered by Gulf carriers.
Earlier this month, Delta CEO Ed Bastian hinted the return of Delta Airlines in India after the US reached an agreement with the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar concerning the practices of Gulf carriers – Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian said: “We are thankful to the president for taking real action to enforce our open skies trade deals, which made this new service possible.”
US-based airlines accused the Middle East carriers of unfair practices and violating aviation agreements by accepting more than $50 billion in state subsidies since 2004.
Meanwhile, American Airlines dropped its only route to India way back in 2012. For the past few years, American and Delta’s flights to India are indirect by offering flights to Europe then to India via their codeshare partners.
Indirect flights to India out the two other US airlines against United Airlines in terms of competing for business travellers with its direct service.