Delta May Announce Flights To India Soon

A few days ago I wrote about how the United States and United Arab Emirates reached an agreement in their Open Skies battle that lasted for several years. In reality it’s not much of a victory for US airlines at all, despite how they’re trying to spin it:

  • Emirates and Etihad are agreeing to publish annual financial statements consistent with internationally recognized accounting standards
  • Emirates and Etihad have stated that as of now they have no plans to add additional fifth freedom flights to the US; Emirates currently operates these flights from New York to Milan and Newark to Athens

Personally I view this as more of a victory for the Gulf carriers, as it’s business as usual for them. They’ve been decreasing their service to the US lately, not because of any political pressure from the US carriers, but rather because they’re responding to market conditions and trying to operate their route networks as profitably as possible.

But of course US airlines are doing a huge victory lap. Airline CEOs are touting that this is an example of Trump standing up for the American people, that this is a win for American jobs and consumers, and they’re even claiming that the UAE has admitted that government subsidies harm competition (which they haven’t).

For years, some US carriers (in particular Delta) claimed that the Gulf carriers drove them out of India. Now they’re reversing course on this. CNBC reports that Delta plans to announce new international routes in the coming weeks:

Delta Air Lines plans to announce new international routes in the coming weeks after U.S. and three Gulf carriers resolved a more than three-year-old dispute over unfair competition, the airline’s CEO said Monday.

Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian said the deal would allow Delta to add new destinations.

“We’ve been hurt in India,” he said, although he did not specify which cities Delta is planning to add. He said routes currently served by those three Gulf carriers is “ripe for our opportunity to fly.”

Delta’s CEO is trying to make it sound like the airline will be adding flights to India and/or the Middle East because of this deal. The irony is that this deal literally has zero impact on Delta’s situation as it pertains to flying to India:

  • The Gulf carriers releasing financial statements has nothing to do with whether or not Delta flies to India
  • The only thing that has been discussed in the deal is fifth freedom flights (which are between the US and Europe), which also have zero impact on flights to India or the Middle East

Delta is now in a position where it may once again make sense to fly to India. They have more fuel efficient A350s, and they have a partnership with Jet Airways, so they’d be able to get quite a bit of connecting traffic. India might make sense again, assuming oil prices don’t go too high. It would be very cool to see this.

I just find it insulting how Ed Bastian lies to the public, including customers and employees. Even with how they’re choosing to spin things, there’s simply no way anyone could reasonably rationalize that this agreement has an impact on the viability of Delta flying to India. This isn’t a case of “well, it depends who you ask.” Rather this is just an outright lie.

What this clearly tells us is that Delta thinks a route to India is once again viable, but they’ve held off on adding it for political reasons, so that they can somehow tie this into the Open Skies self congratulating tour.

I should point out that United has quite successfully been flying to India throughout this whole Open Skies battle, and Air Canada has recently added several flights to India as well.

Why can’t Delta just be honest?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments

  1. Delta also cried that they were unprofitable out of Dubai which was total BS. Though I am a Delta loyalist and a Platinum member, (live near ATL, so really have little choice) I find their rancor boring.

  2. I, personally, do not like to arrive in India exhausted because I feel I must be alert in India. Easy to get hit by a car and other reasons. Therefore, I like a staging city where I can rest for a day, such as Singapore or Dubai. That means that Delta service to India is not useful to me.

  3. Many airlines are now willing to fly to India like crazy, this could be another “expanding to Cuba fail” story…

  4. “Why can’t Delta just be honest?” That’s what Delta is best at – Keep (f-)Lying

  5. India is a huge market. Americans will prostitute themselves for money (Mark Warner’s D-Va words.) Let’s hope Indians love watching pole dancing.

    Make them work for it India.

  6. Having flown “Jetihad” a few times JFK-AUH-JNB, I have no interest whatsoever in flying “Jelta.”

    We’ve also flown ATL-BOM nonstop in J on DL back when they flew this route, and it was also nothing to write home about.

    Jet Airways is a horrible passenger experience in any class of service. What would possess DL to partner with them is beyond me. Just takes DL from mediocre to well-below-average.

    Our last trip to India was SQ Suites outbound and EY F Apartments on the way home. Ed should take fly this to see how real airlines operate.

  7. Air Canada is successful in flying to India in part because they have been extremely successful in convincing their government to do exactly what Delta wants the US government to do — severely limit access by the ME3. Each of the ME3 has exactly 3 weekly flights to all of Canada, and would love to fly much more often and to more cities, but the Canadian government won’t let them have more access, basically in order to protect Air Canada from competition.

    I’m not saying this is a good thing — it means higher airfares for Canadians, among other things — but I’m just pointing out AC’s experience really isn’t comparable here.

  8. @BGriff: good point. I was initially thinking in line with Lucky’s comments that AC seems to have done fine to India for years, but forgot that Canada has been much more proactive at keeping the ME-3 out. I believe the ME-3 have all been itching to increase capacity to Canada. Their lack of service to Canada is notable relative to their presence in the U.S. and Australia.

    @Lucky: The Economist did a good piece saying the same thing as you, that the U.S. carriers got essentially nothing that they wanted out of this agreement.

  9. Air Canada, United already have routes. American and Delta might introduce direct routes but I’m still flying EK, SQ and CX…..
    As someone pointed out, one could really use a break in Singapore, Dubai or Hong Kong……

  10. “…there’s simply no way anyone could reasonably rationalize that this agreement has an impact on the viability of Delta flying to India….
    Rather this is just an outright lie.“

    Well…Delta (et al) argues that, without assurances that the ME3 are on “a level playing field” then they can’t expand in India or wherever. That’s not an unreasonable concern. Without analyzing Delta’s books, it would be hard to conclude it’s a “lie.” Even if all of us suspect it is.

    Of course they’re full of BS on all sorts of other issues.

  11. @ Potreroflyr — But this agreement doesn’t assure that the airlines are on a “level playing field?” If it’s discovered that Etihad actually loses a ton of money (which is almost certainly the case), there’s no provision here as to what would happen. So I’m not sure I get what one thing has to do with the other here?

  12. Delta canceling their routes to India was an excuse. As Lucky said, United and before merger Continental has been flying to India very successfully. However, since I live near Delta hub (DTW), hopefully, I can fly to India on Delta instead of two stops ME3 or one stop Jet. I would rather fly Spirit than Jet. I though Air India was horrible but Jet is at a whole new level. I wouldn’t fly Jet domestically, let alone international.

  13. DL inherited some (fifth freedom!) NW routes to India, such as DTW-AMS-BOM, but these were dropped sometime after the merger. Then came some non-stops, and it appears these will now return.

  14. Air Canada also can make their route work well because of their northern position/great circle, Canada is actually a bit closer to India than the US.

  15. I imagine they were ‘hurt’ in India because the flight stop in Amsterdam. Which was one of those harmful fifth freedom routes.

  16. Imagine this:
    Now Delta will add flights to India via DXB or AUH, with rights to sell the DXB-DEL and DXB-BOM legs rsrs
    the irony

  17. Delta has also published ads attacking the ME3 for hurting American jobs, but has no problem becoming an Airbus-only airline. Another example of Delta’s hypocrisy.

  18. @Derek
    Fine then don’t fly them, I’m sure delta won’t break it’s bank over you

  19. The Indian community seems very concentrated in a few cities. Given how successful AI has been with its non stop SFO DEL and EWR BOM they could with the right aircraft skim the cream with non stops to BOM, DEL, BLR from select US cities such as SFO and EWR

    While AI remains a substandard carrier passengers report liking the non stop part and the favorable arrival and departure times

  20. Delta should fly from EWR(newark) to BOM(Mumbai).and provide connections thru partnership with Jet Airways to Indian Cities such as Bangalore,Chennai,Hyderabad,Delhi,Ahmedabad etc. Within India Jet airways has good name/service. Newark is a major airport in north east with large Indian Population from eastern United states, easily accessible than JFK.

  21. I live in Detroit, and fly to Madras every other year for volunteer. No one here has hypothesized a route to MAA. So I’ll probably stick with ORD-DXB-MAA on Etihad wrapped with a r/t DTW-ORD on whoever is cheapest. I can’t afford business (although new to this points game so working on accrual), and it’s hell to get to MAA from a second tier U.S. city. Maybe I need to look at flying out of Canada.

  22. Delta to India, with a JFK -DEL OR BOM and onward connections to 9W in India, will do extremely well for first timers pulled in via attractive fares and skyteam loyalists. As for me thank you very much, Ill stick to AA operated by BA or QR.

  23. I live in Detroit, I avoid LH and fly DL/AF to BLR. This is purely because there are no hassles to flying via CDG when my work visa is expired, and I’m heading to India to get my work visa stamped. More routes from DL are welcome.

  24. Also, I must add that I have no interest in flying Jet Airways. I would prefer Air France over Jet Airways any day. Unfortunately, for those flying from Detroit to India via Amsterdam, many flights to India are operated by Jet (9W)

  25. Jet used to cross list flights with UA etc. but since the VP of Asia Operations for Delta Vinay Dube became CEO of 9W, that has stopped. Its now only doing Delta cross listing. Wonder how it will work with Etihad owning big chunk of DL.
    That said one stops in UAE/Qatar then to India is a lot more palatable as hard and soft products of ME3 are so so much better than US carriers. Actually, US3 are shite!
    I go to India for work every other month and would never consider any US3 ever.

  26. @Samuel King – could not have nailed better.

    1) ME3 have succeeded because they are much better at service to Indian subcontinent than US3’s fox news induced attitude staff

    2) While US3 ignored India, ME3 made India one the key pieces of its growth strategy

    3) ME3 serve as many as 25 cities directly in the subcontinent vs 2 by US3

    4) Incremental cost of flying to cities other than BOM/DEL directly is negligible on ME3 compared to flying to non NYC/WAS cities on US3

    5) ME3 usually allows 2 bags per pax whereas US3 does only 1

    6) Chances of special meal request messed up on ME3 is negligible compared to that on US3

    Instead of flying to India directly, Delta is better off providing good connections to 9W flights in AMS from major cities such as PHL, IAH, IAD, ORD, DFW (surely these cities can support direct flights to AMS if significant load is for connection to 9W) This is how ME3 grew in US.

  27. Flying to India in Y is so much a superior experience on 9W compared to most non-Asian carriers that focusing on connection at AMS makes more sense.

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