Air India To Add Flights To San Jose?!?

Filed Under: Air India

Air India has been doing quite well on their US flights lately, which is great to see. It seems like they picked up some momentum when the US electronics ban was put in place against Gulf carriers, and they’ve been able to maintain that ever since.

In December 2015, Air India launched 3x weekly flights between San Francisco and Delhi (their longest route), a flight which now operates 6-7x weekly. On top of that, Air India has added flights between Washington and Delhi, and also added a new flight between Newark and Ahmedabad, which operates via London.

Now, before I share this interesting new route claim, I should note that Air India “officials” seem to do a lot of talking, and a lot of what they say doesn’t actually materialize. For example, last year Air India’s former CEO announced a specific date that the airline would launch flights to Los Angeles, and also said that they’d fly to Dallas before the end of 2017, though neither of those things have happened.


Add in the fact that Air India is in the process of being privatized (or something), and all of this becomes even less certain. However, that doesn’t make it any less fun to talk about.

The Economic Times has a story about Air India’s expansion. A “senior Air India official” claims that all their US routes are now making money, except their Newark to Ahmedabad service:

“All our flights to the US are making money barring the one which is to Newark via London. We’ve been seeing consistently good passenger load factor on the US routes. The San Francisco flight is also clocking over 80 per cent seat factor since the launch in December 2015.”

The same Air India official claims that the airline intends to add 3x weekly flights between Mumbai and San Francisco, as well as a flight to Silicon Valley (presumably San Jose):

“This has prompted to us to connect Mumbai directly with San Francisco and we plan to launch a flight service to the Silicon Valley from the coming summers,” the official said.

The proposed flight will be operated three times a week with a Boeing 777 aircraft, as per the official.

Delhi to San Francisco is already Air India’s longest route, though Mumbai to San Francisco would be an additional 700 miles longer, so that would be quite a haul, clocking in at 8,407 miles. Having taken Air India’s flight from Delhi to San Francisco, I couldn’t imagine being on that plane for even longer.

As far as the “Silicon Valley” service goes, I’m especially skeptical about that. On one hand you’d think there would be demand for the flight, but it doesn’t seem like Air India would add 3x weekly flights between Mumbai and San Francisco and also add flights to San Jose.

So for now I’d take this with a grain of salt, since this is per an anonymous “senior official” at Air India, when even the information coming from Air India’s CEO with exact dates often isn’t accurate (and to be clear, Air India’s management isn’t alone in making empty promises — plenty of other airline executives do the same).

I’d be interested to see how much of this expansion happens. Given Air India’s success in the Bay Area so far, it would be cool to see them add even further flights.

Do you think Air India will add flights from Mumbai to San Francisco, or from Delhi to San Jose?

  1. The BOM-SFO plan is genuinely under consideration but constrained right now due to heavy maintenance schedules on the 777-200LRs which are the only type in the fleet capable of operating this. Once those are done, the flight may come to fruition. Maybe in W18 schedule if at all.

  2. The way I read it, the comment about BOM-SFO and “Sillicon valley” are about the same flight. That’s why the next sentence says “proposed flight,” not “proposed flights.”

  3. United could have had this but the bastards didn’t. Everyone should fly air India now just to spite United. Everyone except the racist whites who can’t get themselves to adjust to other cultures but expect others to adjust to white culture. You continue flying whatever airline you want to fly for whatever flimsy reason you want to give.

    Eff United.

  4. I think in Indian common usage, SFO is considered equivalent to Silicon Valley, so it is likely he is just referring to the one planned addition (BOM-SFO), not San Jose or anything similar.

  5. @Debit Everyone who reads one post of yours can clearly see that you are the one that is racist….and a complete sociopathic psychotic as well. Please seek professional help. You are a danger to yourself and others.

  6. The funniest part is how all the DL and AA apologists *insist* they can’t make any money on North America to India nonstops even though 3 airlines in Star are flying to India left and right :

    AC + AI + UA combined
    BOM – EWR YYZ (and possibly SFO if this rumor is true, and I see AC announcing YVR-BOM within the next 24 months)

    DL + 9W + anyone in Skyteam + any-non-skyteam partner of DL
    DEL – nothing
    BOM – nothing

    AA + anyone in oneworld
    DEL – nothing
    BOM – nothing

  7. Lucky, despite having large middle east and subcontinental population, why isn’t anyone starting flights from DTW? Isn’t it a perfect location for Emirates/Eithad/Qatar? Does DTW being a Delta hub has anything to do with it?

  8. This actually makes a lot of sense. There a ton of people flying back & forth between India and Silicon Valley on a daily basis

  9. Based on the Tech community on the West Coast (SF & Silicon Valley), I’m surprised that UA doesn’t have a flight to India from Bay Area on UA metal

  10. I don’t have actual numbers, but they may be a majority. However, South East Michigan (which DTW serves) has enough Middle Eastern and Asian (Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Filipino) diaspora to sustain direct flights to Dubai/Abu Dhabhi/Qatar

  11. I would rather do the one stop ME3 or Asian airlines than fly AI. But the business is certainly there particularly for an SJC/SFO to BOM/DEL. A game changer would be SJC/BLR but not sure whether it is technically possible.

  12. @Marcus : SJC-BLR is less than 8800mi so it’s shorter than many of the currently longest routes like DOH-AKL or the upcoming PER-LHR. With some seat blocking, the technical aspect is quite feasible. That said, SFO-BLR has much better chance of success than SJC-BLR.

    The bigger challenge with SFO-India is that the tech traffic is quite split among BLR, HYD, and some DEL+BOM here and there, making any single flight particularly hard to fill profitably a 789 from UA’s perspective.

  13. I don’t get why they’d fly BOM-SJC. Would make much more sense from Bangalore or Hyderabad; Mumbai isn’t a tech center.

  14. “That said, SFO-BLR has much better chance of success than SJC-BLR.”

    The current AI SFO-DEL flight is marketed as SFO-DEL-BLR under a single flight number even though there’s an equipment change to a 321 and security screening in DEL, but you clear immigration in BLR.

  15. So, my aunt is actually an employee of Air India.

    When they are talking about “Silicon Valley”, they are actually referring to the entire West Coast tech industry. A growing player in this has been Seattle, and talks are currently underway to start service between SEA – BOM on Air India, with continuing service to MAA.

    A large chunk of Amazon/Microsoft employees as well as a ton of other companies in the area are from Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad so this service is actually quite welcome.

  16. BOM-SJC would be interesting. Like how they make NYC DEL-JFK and BOM-EWR, they could make their their SF flights DEL-SFO and BOM-SJC, giving BOM passengers a less congested, but secondary airport of important US cities.

  17. @ bryan t

    I don’t think anyone in their right mind would want to fly Royal Jordanian to the Indian subcontinent. Its a good idea to avoid highly unusual routes for the sake of having a trouble-free trip. A recent US-bound Aeroflot flight saw US citizens of Indian origin being “deported” from Moscow to Delhi instead of the US(no typo)

    DL and LH both serve Indian population in southeast Michigan from their DTW service. However, visa restrictions on Indians transiting via Germany mean that DL gets the bulk of these passengers.

    AI could at the very least upgrade their website to allow UA to ferry passengers to EWR\IAD\JFK, so that passengers could then fly on AI to India

  18. My goodness. Trying to pick the best option between Air India and United! What a horrible choice to have to make! Me thinks the long road on Lufthansa, Emirates, or Turkish would be better….

  19. I think that the fact Air India is using Silicon Valley as a synonym for San Francisco explains exactly why they are succeeding there

    It’s where the customers are.

  20. SFO has increasingly become a major pain in the ass to get to/from at many times of the day if you’re in San Jose and other parts of Silicon Valley. True SJC used to be even faster to run in/out of but I can still get off a plane in SJC, be out of the airport in under 3 minutes, jump into my brother’s car and quickly drive to his place. When flying into or out of SFO it’s an extra hour to factor in at minimum. Public transportation from SFO to the Valley sucks and a huge waste of time. Rental cars at SFO are ridiculously overpriced; recently I had a two-week luxury rental out of SF SOMA at *half* the price of SFO. When you think about how many Desis are in Silicon Valley and how many you see at SJC of course this makes perfect sense. Where is Google HQ? Where is Apple HQ? And eBay? And so on and so on. Air India would be smart to launch this service.

  21. I am pleased to hear this. My colleagues and I travel to DEL frequently, and SFO is a nightmare these days. We purchase tickets in large quantities at the start of each year and although SFO is not our favorite airport, we were informed by AI execs that BOM-SFO is in the process of being realized. Both are lucrative routes to us with more than 50000 full-price business class tickets (for 2018) purchased each year by the company.

  22. @DaKine. Yeah. I also read about it, too. I am in the same boat as you as I also have suggested @lucky to write something about it. I would also love to read his take on it. A bit surprising news, though.

  23. @ Ring Mats: Right on. I fly B6 to BOS-SFO now instead of BOS-SJC and much prefer the latter, but they only have one nonstop per day with return being a red eye. Plus low price Mint flights only make SFO more tempting. BUT…The rental car situation at SFO is a serious pain in the arse and something to be avoided. SJC’s rental situation is a pain too with the “mandatory” bus to their rental center which is all of 200 yards from the terminal that B6 uses.

    If you spend anytime in Sunnyvale and Cupertino (which are both 15 minutes from SJC), you’ll see why SJC might be a realistic destination for Air India. Heck, even the Whole Foods in Cupertino has a full-blown Indian restaurant inside the store (really tasty), probably the only WF that has one in the entire chain.

  24. @Tim: If you don’t have checked luggage on B6, you can walk to the rental cars in SJC if you continue walking in the concourse towards Gate 28. When you are there, go out the mantraps and down the escalator and cross the street – should let you out right by the rental car center without needing to wait for the bus.

  25. I think there might be some parts of this lost in translation here, in India when you say silicon valley it generally refers to San Francisco not San Jose. When the AI official said they want to connect India to the valley he was referring to the increase in SFO flights. With a bulk of AI flts operating from DEL, BOM is loosing much of it traffic to foreign carriers. I really hope this is a move to avoid that.
    Also it should be noted that new routes for AI are always determined by the government and not necessarily by demand or market (Remember how they flew to DC via JFK for a bit?). And as soon as the mood of the politician changes so does the new routes.

  26. Imagine flying in an aircraft which often does not have working toilets,broken entertainment screens and handsets which hang out from their enclosures.The crew! best to refraining from uttering profanities.

  27. @Winston Each of SJC’s runway is the same length as EWR’s longest runway, which was used to take off Singapore Airlines flight from Newark to Singapore. Must be interesting to say that a runway this long is still “too short.”

  28. @Bryan t,

    I believe Royal Jordanian flies thru Toronto and you need a visa even to transit through Toronto for Indian citizens (not sure about the middle eastern folks, but a lot of them are American passport holders, I would think). So that makes it a bit if an inconvenient option for Indians, not to mention the multiple connections needed for people traveling to cities other than Mumbai (which RJ serves). The middle eastern carriers on the other hand have much better connectivity to Indian cities across the country.

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