Delta To Fly Nonstop To Mumbai Starting In 2019

While exact details haven’t yet been announced, Delta revealed today that they plan to fly nonstop between the United States and Mumbai, India, as of 2019. Delta hasn’t yet revealed out of which hub they’ll operate this flight, and notes that the full schedule details will be announced later this year.

The way I see it, the most likely options are Atlanta, New York JFK, or Detroit (roughly in that order).

To compare the length of these flights out of the three hubs:

  • Atlanta to Mumbai would cover a distance of ~8,500 miles; Atlanta is Delta’s biggest hub, so my first assumption is that this is the most likely
  • Detroit to Mumbai would cover a distance of ~8,000 miles; on the surface this doesn’t seem like the most logical route, though perhaps it’s a happy middle ground between Atlanta and New York, as the route is a bit shorter than out of Atlanta, and it’s also one of Delta’s more reliable hubs
  • New York JFK to Mumbai would cover a distance of ~7,800 miles; geographically New York JFK makes the most sense since they’d be able to funnel the most passengers through there efficiently, and New York to Mumbai is also a big market, though Air India and United already operate routes between the two cities

All three of these routes would be within range for a 777-200LR or A350-900. An Atlanta to Mumbai flight would become Delta’s new longest flight, beating out their current longest route between Atlanta and Johannesburg by about 70 miles.

Delta last flew to India in 2015, when they operated a flight between Amsterdam and Mumbai. That was a pretty pointless route, since you can fly one-stop between the US and India on a countless number of airlines. The only way a US airline can have an advantage flying to India is if they fly nonstop from the US.

Not surprisingly, Delta (pathetically) takes up the rest of the press release to bash the Gulf carriers:

The announcement follows agreements between the U.S. and the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to address the issue of government subsidies provided to state-owned carriers in those nations. The framework created by the agreement allows Delta to move forward with service to India, a market long impacted by government-subsidized Middle Eastern airlines.

This move will mark a return to India for Delta, which was forced to exit the market after subsidized state-owned airlines made service economically unviable.

“It is exciting to be able to announce Delta’s return to India from the U.S. as part of our vision to expand Delta’s reach internationally,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “We are thankful to the president for taking real action to enforce our Open Skies trade deals, which made this new service possible. We are looking forward to providing customers in the U.S. and India with Delta’s famously reliable, customer-focused service operated by the best employees in the industry.”

This is of course BS on so many levels. The only related thing that the recent agreement between the US and Gulf carriers stipulates is that they have to provide financial disclosures going forward. Nothing — absolutely nothing — is changing that would impact the viability of Delta flying to India.

This new nonstop flight to India is made possible by two things:

  • The A350, which is a more fuel efficient and longer range aircraft, making a route like this much more economical than on a 747, for example
  • Delta’s new partnership with Jet Airways, which will provide them with connecting traffic in Mumbai; they didn’t have this partnership a few years ago

Let’s keep in mind that for years United has been operating nonstop flights to India profitably, in spite of the big, bad, evil Gulf carriers.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s really exciting to see Delta add nonstop service to India. It’s great to see the new routes made possible thanks to planes like the 787 and A350, which can operate longer and thinner routes profitably.

But the degree to which Delta is spinning the agreement between the US and UAE is shameful. It’s obvious that the viability of such a route has nothing to do with an agreement between the US and UAE, but rather Delta just intentionally waited to announce this route until the Open Skies debate was wrapped up, so that they could spin this and pretend that the two are somehow related.

Out of what hub do you think Delta will operate their flight to Mumbai?

Comments

  1. “But the degree to which Delta is spinning the agreement between the US and UAE is shameful.”

    Almost makes you want to root for the ME3, and hope this route is a flop for Delta.

    Almost.

  2. ME3 having to disclose financial info is huge. They have already been caught manipulating their numbers in previous years to hide subsidies and appear profitable. This will make it easier to do so going forward.

  3. @Tony Mumbai because Jet has its hub at Mumbai while Air India which is in Star Alliance is consolidating and removing its Mumbai hub and routing al US nonstops through Delhi. There is an opportunity to pick up the Mumbai O&D. Mumbai is the New York of India while Delhi is the Washington.

    BTW there are nonstops to India from NYC, IAD, ORD, SFO by Air India but nothing out of Texas or the Southeast or LAX so while ATL makes sense , LAX or HOU or DFW could also make sense.

    Also if you are trying to kill the ME3 , India-US is the market to steal as 80% of the folks on US-ME flights are connecting to India.

  4. @ Spruce Goods — Emirates has already published reports that are in line with internationally accepted accounting standards. Qatar admits they lose money. Etihad will publish their info soon. Even if Etihad loses a lot of money, the agreement has no provisions about what happens if they are in fact losing a lot of money.

  5. @ tony — While this might only be part of the equation, Mumbai is Jet Airways’ hub, and I suspect they’ll be relying heavily on them to fill planes here.

  6. My understanding is that BOM is the financial and business center of India, while DEL is the government; the analogy would be NY vs. DC. Never been to either and would like to go.

    Historically, also, NW flew one stop to India via AMS, on D10’s before the merger, in the days when no carrier flew nonstop. DL’s service from AMS would most likely have been a legacy of that, rather than thinking they would start it up and compete.

  7. I am an Indian based out to Atl..it’s good to have one more option to fly to India without a stop in US…but I would fly Qatar anyday than delta…US airlines are just as bad as Air India when it comes to international routes

  8. @asdf – Delta inherited Pan Am’s routes to Mumbai from JFK via Frankfurt back in the 1990s.

    They then switched the stopover to Paris after the Air France partnership started, then ran both Paris and Frankfurt for a while on 767s.

    They also tried nonstops from JFK and then Atlanta with the 777s.

    Finally they consolidated the flying with Northwest’s route via AMS and eventually pulled out altogether.

    There was also an ill-fated attempt to make services work from Paris to Chennai in the 2000s but that didn’t go anywhere.

  9. In Delhi, they’d also have to compete with Air India, which already flies non-stop to JFK, Chicago, Newark, Washington, and San Francisco. Mumbai has only one direct flight to the US, on Air India, to Newark.

  10. Seems like Seattle could be a possible starting point, it’s closer to Mumbai than either Atlanta or New York. Boston may be the only major airport in the continental US that’s (slightly) closer than Seattle.

  11. I would imagine NYC would make the most sense, followed by Silicon Valley/SFO. Possibly Detroit or ATL hubs, but if one has to change planes they’re competing with the Middle East carriers head to head instead of Air India.

  12. @ Ben — Awesome. I hope that Delta does fly from ATL to BOM and that this sparks a business class fare with with QR, who seems to get much of the Indian traffic to ATL (via DOH).

  13. ED BASTIAN needs to STOP KNEELING UNDER THE ORANGE CHEETOH’S DESK!!!!!1!!!!1!!!!!1111

    t5ehy are BOTH DISGUSTING!!!!!1!!!!

  14. Dark horse hub choice … DTW. Closer than ATL and home to a sizeable community of people from the subcontinent.

  15. Not only did United operate two routes(to BOM and DEL) during the peak of the battle against the ME3, Air Canada expanded from Toronto and Vancouver and even Air India expanded further into the US. It really is shameful how DL is playing this as a victory against the ME3 and playing their employees for fools too.

  16. ATL would make the most sense and would be better for me.

    Btw, do people on this website not understand the concept of “hubs” when it comes to us airlines? Philly, seattle, dallas, houston, boston, etc make zero sense when guessing for a Delta international route!!

    I would also guess Skyteam partners like AF and KLM will be unhappy with this news as a good bit of traffic into india comes through europe as well. The euro carriers have been hit the hardest by ME3 regarding India-US airtravel.

  17. First, I will say that having to be transparent with the books is significant. I agree with Spruce on this one. While you make some valid points, Lucky, any time a private business that is governed by the requirement that it earn a profit has to compete with an enterprise that is backed by the (perhaps) bottomless coffers of government , there is an inherent unfairness at play. Delta and other American carriers have a legitimate complaint about these competitors, especially prior to the requirement of transparency. Enough on that.

    As for the origination, ATL would be a good option. Obviously, you have a huge amount of feeder traffic given the size of the hub. Also, there is a very sizable Indian population in the northern suburbs of Atlanta where I live. I have to think a direct flight from ATL to BOM would be very popular in this community as well as with all the businesses that have operations and relationships in India. Not that I am planning to visit India in the next couple of years, it would be great to see DL operate A350s out of Hartsfield!

  18. Two independent sources within Delta have confirmed the route will be DTW-BOM. Might want to reach out to the big D for more info before falsely speculating on the route.

  19. @ Mitch Cumstein — They’re officially not stating what the route will be, so speculating is all I can do…

  20. Considering none of the ME3 have any presence at DTW, I’d wager DTW. Its a reliably large hub that can feed to the rest of the US and can serve the large and growing Indian diaspora in the DTW metro area who more often than not have to rely on a 2 stop routing to india (in the leisure fare market) where 1 stops are typically fed through CDG/AMS and the lone Lufthansa flight to FRA.
    I would imagine this would be a good way for Delta to lay claim to routes before ME3 get a chance to expand to DTW.

  21. Not an av geek so don’t know what’s possible but based on where Indians reside and what would make sense the following routes would hold promise.
    1) SFO – BLR
    2) SFO -MAA
    3) SFO- HYD
    4) HOU/DFW – BOM

    Right now ME3 is making bank as there are no non stops on these routes and a fair number will never fly AI regardless. (Another fair number would not fly a US carrier either)

  22. While atl-bom would be like “rubbing salt in the wound” of qatar, it could end up hurting delta to start a fare war with qatar without quality of service to match. DTW would be a safer option for delta to route passengers across US to bom without a stop in a third country that requires transit visa for indian citizens.

  23. I used to take Delta’s ATL-BOM direct flight many years ago and it was always packed and awesome for people like me who fly that route several times a year. Very happy to see it coming back. (But stop the politics please Delta).

  24. They used to fly a 77L ATL-BOM. took that flight roundtrip. Hope it returns now that I’m moving back to ATL. I’ll take nonstop where I can get it

  25. I am itching to wear a bright red Arsenal FC jersey emblazoned with “FLY EMIRATES” on my next Delta flight!

  26. Here’s a few things people need to understand: Delta wants profitability and market share.

    1: think about how underserved India is in terms of number of non stops vs China (using population as denominator). Pick any hub, there’s going to be a sizeable chunk willing to pay the nonstop premium. It would NOT be hard at all to make money from any hub. Profitability is near certain with these oil prices and A350s

    2. Market share – To create switching, they need to pull from where ME3s operate. Guys I think this is where it gets tricky. ATL flight will offer one stop for non-ATL based mumbai bound/ATL based Non-Mumbai bound passengers. Those guys will always choose ME3. Indians always do. So to maximise profitability and share, I feel a NYC makes more sense. Unless they can find enough DTW/ATL based people who want to go to BOM as end destination and are willing to pay nonstop premium.

    3. Side note – My best friend works for Air india and only 2 airports in India are permitted to operate nonstops to US: DEL and BOM. Let’s take it easy with the BLR/HYD/MAA speculation.

  27. Probably will be Seattle since this is Delta’s closest hub to Mumbai. Also, Delta’s A350 will be dedicated to the Westcoast of the US, as well as Delta’s Asia market, and I would predict this as the likely aircraft Delta would use, given the distance and market. The capacity from the East coast of the US is already saturated by market stalwarts. Someone asked why Mumbai and not Delhi? Notwithstanding market size/existing capacity, Mumbai/Pune is home to Delta’s long standing outsourcing partners in IT, Reservations, and Customer Care.

  28. @ LosAngeles

    The A350 will be an EAST COAST based aircraft as stated by the airline. Not sure where you get your info from but the A350 is being used on ATL/DTW Asia and DTW-Europe. Also, DL has stated NO NEW international from SEA until the new FIS facility is built. The A330NEO is the aircraft they plan on using on the west coast to Asia/Europe. As far as service to BOM, the CEO said in the press release that it will be operated from a DL eastern hub. The wild speculation on here is just silly.

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