American Airlines’ New York To Delhi Route: Upgraded To 777-300ER

American Airlines’ New York To Delhi Route: Upgraded To 777-300ER

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In April American Airlines announced its newest ultra long haul service, set to launch between New York and Delhi as of October.

The airline seems to be quite optimistic about this route — in June, American increased frequencies in the market to daily year-round, and now the airline has upgraded the plane on the route from a 777-200ER to a 777-300ER, at least for the first several months of service.

American Airlines’ New York to Delhi service

As of October 31, 2021, American Airlines will launch a new daily year-round route between New York (JFK) and Delhi (DEL). This 7,318-mile flight will operate with the following schedule:

AA292 New York to Delhi departing 8:10PM arriving 7:30PM (+1 day)
AA293 Delhi to New York departing 11:55PM arriving 6:30AM (+1 day)

The flight is blocked at 13hr50min eastbound and 16hr5min westbound. With the latest equipment upgrade:

  • The flight will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER between October 31, 2021, and March 26, 2022
  • The flight will be operated by a Boeing 777-200ER as of March 27, 2022
  • Since late March coincides with the start of the summer schedule, it’s possible that the airline just hasn’t updated the schedule yet, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the larger aircraft stick around, depending on how things play out
American Airlines’ Boeing 777 premium economy

Implications of American flying the 777-300ER to India

It’s interesting to see American Airlines schedule the Boeing 777-300ER on the Delhi route, as this is the carrier’s flagship aircraft, and the only long haul aircraft to feature first class. For context, here’s how the configurations of the planes compare:

  • The 777-300ER has 304 seats, including eight first class seats, 52 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats, and 216 economy seats
  • The 777-200ER has 273 seats, including 37 business class seats, 24 premium economy seats, and 212 economy seats
American Airlines’ 777-300ER business class

As you can see, the 777-300ER has 31 more seats overall, and that’s almost entirely premium seats, including an incremental eight first class seats, 15 business class seats, and four premium economy seats.

It remains to be seen whether premium demand to Delhi is actually that strong with forward bookings, or if American simply doesn’t have anywhere better to fly these planes. American certainly has some excess 777-300ERs, between Hong Kong being mostly closed, and London not being anywhere close to recovered.

American has otherwise been flying 777-300ERs largely between Los Angeles and Miami, so it seems like the opportunity cost of flying the plane to Delhi probably isn’t that high, especially if cargo demand will be strong. While I understand that this is historically when seasonal demand is strongest for India, at the moment the United States has a travel ban against India, so I wonder whether the airline is banking on that being lifted, or just being optimistic.

Unfortunately at the moment I’m not seeing much saver level award availability in first and business class on this route, though I’m keeping an eye on it, as I’m sure that will change eventually. Meanwhile I do see quite a bit of upgrade availability, whether to first or business class.

American Airlines will offer first class to India

How India expansion fits into American’s route network

American’s New York to Delhi route is being added thanks to the American and JetBlue strategic alliance in the Northeast. With this we’re seeing American expand into new long haul markets, while JetBlue provides much of the regional feed for these flights.

American and JetBlue have a new strategic alliance

This is the fifth new long haul route that American has announced out of New York in the past several months, in addition to:

  • A seasonal New York to Athens flight
  • A year-round New York to Rio de Janeiro flight
  • A year-round New York to Santiago flight
  • A year-round New York to Tel Aviv flight
American Airlines’ new long haul routes out of New York

Bigger picture, when it comes to American Airlines’ India service:

Looking at the overall New York to India market:

  • Air India operates to both Delhi and Mumbai
  • United operates to both Delhi and Mumbai
  • Delta launched a New York to Mumbai route in 2019, though it has since been suspended, and it’s anyone’s guess if/when it will be restored
United Airlines is strong between Newark and India

By the way, it’s pretty funny to me that American claims to have “the fastest growing network from the United States to India.” This comes as American goes from zero to two routes. So yes, I suppose the growth rate is so high here that it can’t even be calculated, though the claim does seem quite disingenuous.

Bottom line

American Airlines will launch a new route between New York and Delhi, made possible thanks to the new partnership between American and JetBlue. The airline had already increased frequencies in this market to daily, and is now also upgrading the flight to a 777-300ER for the first several months of service.

We’re seeing American add significant long haul service out of the New York area, which sure is cool to see. In particular I’m excited about American’s expansion to both India and Israel, both of which were markets where the airline didn’t previously have a presence.

I’m still not sure whether American’s strategy of relying so heavily on Alaska and JetBlue for its international network is a smart one, but I guess we’ll find out over time.

What do you make of American Airlines’ new route to Delhi?

(Tip of the hat to @IshrionA)

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  1. FlyerDon

    I visit a major hospital every week for PT. The first question they ask me when I walk in the door is have I traveled to India or Brazil in the last 28 days. I don't think Covid is going away this winter, it could get worse if a new variant appears. My thinking is if people want to travel this fall and winter a lot of them will stay stateside and visit California or...

    I visit a major hospital every week for PT. The first question they ask me when I walk in the door is have I traveled to India or Brazil in the last 28 days. I don't think Covid is going away this winter, it could get worse if a new variant appears. My thinking is if people want to travel this fall and winter a lot of them will stay stateside and visit California or Florida or head to Mexico's beach destinations. We taxpayers have been paying the airline's labor costs for sometime now. Unless extended that expires at the end of September and the airlines will have to start paying their employees again using their own money. A flight to New Delhi would have four cockpit crew members earning combined salaries that would approach a million dollars a year. It would take at least 3 full crews to operate daily flights, and probably close to half a million pounds of fuel roundtrip. I don't see how or why AA would start this service now. Keeping those 777s flying between MIA/MCO/DFW/LAX/CUN this winter makes a lot more sense to me.

  2. Shamanth

    DFW to Bangalore isn’t possible on any of the planes that AA has. Infact the DFW-HKG route is often weight restricted on a 777-300ER

    1. AAguy

      It was swapped to the -300ER due to onboard oxygen capabilities now that we can no longer over fly Afghanistan, with exception of a thin sliver between Tajikistan and Pakistan. The -200ER could make it if we were still able to fly over all of Afghanistan or even Iraq and Iran.

  3. Chris J

    From the loss of LATAM early in 2020 to a series of mismanagement to date , AA is on a role with the wrong moves. DFW BLR would have been a smarter move. Dallas being it's primary hub and the growing bounds between Texas and I.T India would propel this flight to success.

    1. flyingrohit

      While this sounds nice in theory I don’t think any AA aircraft can operate DFW BLR. They would need an A350-900ULR to make the route work, their 777s and 787s aren’t going to cut it.

    2. shoeguy

      No question AA is in need of a management shakeup, but a few things here aren't right. DL is sucker having invested in LATAM just before the pandemic. LATAM is bankrupt and has been shrinking. Sure it is an anchor in Latin America and dominates the Brazil market in particular, but it is every bit as much AA loss as it is a bad fit for Delta, which won't be able to align with LATAM...

      No question AA is in need of a management shakeup, but a few things here aren't right. DL is sucker having invested in LATAM just before the pandemic. LATAM is bankrupt and has been shrinking. Sure it is an anchor in Latin America and dominates the Brazil market in particular, but it is every bit as much AA loss as it is a bad fit for Delta, which won't be able to align with LATAM the way AA did. As to the BLR route, the only reason it will ever start is to cover Amazon and Microsoft corporate contracts and those are in Seattle, not DFW.

    3. Tim Dunn

      First,
      Delta will very likely get a joint venture with Latam out of the deal which will yield far more over just 10 years than the $2 billion that Delta invested.
      Second, a Delta-Latam joint venture could well lead to the first US carrier competitive service from Mia to S. America since United's failed attempt to compete with AA.
      Third, all of the castigation of Delta's equity strategies belies that American invested...

      First,
      Delta will very likely get a joint venture with Latam out of the deal which will yield far more over just 10 years than the $2 billion that Delta invested.
      Second, a Delta-Latam joint venture could well lead to the first US carrier competitive service from Mia to S. America since United's failed attempt to compete with AA.
      Third, all of the castigation of Delta's equity strategies belies that American invested in China Southern and even before covid American had already cut its China service down to just DFW. United has already written down its investment in Avianca.
      Fourth, American is at best promising more China service as well as to India from Seattle. There is high doubt that either will happen. United's SFO-BLR service will cut a huge part of American's potential market.
      Fifth, American has not succeeded in the local market in ANY direct market outside of Tokyo or London where it has competed with Delta and/or United.
      Sixth, American has flown to Delhi before. Just like China, they are reshuffling the deck hoping they can make another gateway work.
      Finally, the AA 777-300ER is by far the most costly aircraft in the US carrier ultra long haul capable fleet due to the relatively low number of seats in AA's configuration. The 777 is not an efficient aircraft compared to newer generation aircraft. When, not if, Delta uses the A350 to restart India service, AA and UA will have a 20% plus cost disadvantage.
      Not only does AA's 777-300ER not make financial sense now given the very low demand which will likely persist for months but they will not be cost effective when more efficient aircraft are added by other carriers to the market.

    4. shoeguy

      Arm chair CEO'ng from a Lazy Boy at its finest.

    5. Tim Dunn

      AA's decision to return to India comes after years of their own operations which is documented and verifiable by data.
      As much as you want to try to take a swing at Delta in the process of hoping for AA's success in yet another attempt at India, the data shows that the chances of success are low in light of data from Delta and United's service to India and their fleets and configurations. Further,...

      AA's decision to return to India comes after years of their own operations which is documented and verifiable by data.
      As much as you want to try to take a swing at Delta in the process of hoping for AA's success in yet another attempt at India, the data shows that the chances of success are low in light of data from Delta and United's service to India and their fleets and configurations. Further, there are much higher chances for Delta's success with the largest joint venture in Latin America because of their investment - in contrast to AA's investment in China Southern.
      If arm chairs are equipped with all of the data that I have shared, then it isn't as much of a guess as you might think.

  4. ashu

    There is currently a travel ban for Indian citizens coming to US due to covid, nobody knows when it’ll be lifter. US embassies are mostly closed and not issuing visas. The timing of this launch means they’ll be operating empty aircrafts for a while!

    1. Emily

      Not exactly - PR holders, students and those on existing employment visas can travel. The embassies and consulates are not issuing any new visas right now unless they fall into the categories above. Those on tourist of temporary business visas (B1/2) cannot enter the US right now.

  5. Julie

    Many potential reasons for this - wonder if the season traffic from the US to India may be one of the factors since many Indians travel home for the festivities coming in the next few months. I think it's a little late for the student traffic to the US. A great improvement to AI's first and business. However, I am aware that the legroom in economy is substantially superior on AI - and space is priority in economy.

    1. JB

      While the legroom is better with AI, they also have a bad reputation and many people would rather not fly with them (which in my experience is more common with Indians living abroad).

    2. Kent

      I think sample size and selection matters. AI has high passenger loads on its routes to the US. While there are those who are selective about airlines, most travelers simply want to travel with the cheapest option at the shortest time. Reputation becomes a lower priority. If reputation dictated air travel, airlines such as Spirit, American and the likes would have ceased to exist.

  6. MaxPower

    More obvious reason is that the 77W has longer legs than the 77E and that’ll probably be needed with Afghan airspace uncertain.

    1. shoeguy

      AA operated the 772 on ORD-DEL when it ran that route, so not sure this is a range issue so much as a cargo matter. CO and UA also flew 772s on EWR-DEL/BOM previously.

  7. Luke

    A couple months ago a web special on AA for business class seats were widely available on this route for 55k aadvantage miles each way or 110k aadvantage miles round-trip. Great way to transfer & redeem citi thankyou points from premier! I booked several trips into next year, hope route isn't canceled before then.

  8. Franklin

    This is what I've been hanging onto those SWUs for.

  9. shoeguy

    Likely AA has 77W slack and cargo demand is perhaps stronger than pax demand, hence the switch to the 77W. There's hardly any business demand to or from India and that's not likely to change and even the VFR market AA is chasing is going to be muted. But at JFK, AA can also offer a better product than AI which flies the same plane type.

  10. Sarthak

    This is such an interesting one - The seat availability for peak holiday season from EWR-BOM/DEL on both UAL/AI is wide open, implying that the travel ban is obviously tangibly impacting holiday plans. By Aug 2019 I was already struggling to find seats for Dec for that year. This means this is just speculative deployment of their most premium long haul jet. It’s most likely to steal share from AI given 1. Likely a slightly...

    This is such an interesting one - The seat availability for peak holiday season from EWR-BOM/DEL on both UAL/AI is wide open, implying that the travel ban is obviously tangibly impacting holiday plans. By Aug 2019 I was already struggling to find seats for Dec for that year. This means this is just speculative deployment of their most premium long haul jet. It’s most likely to steal share from AI given 1. Likely a slightly better first class product and 2. For Business/Economy UAL has a pretty firm advantage.

    Spot on with the cargo demand. On 28 June I flew BOM EWR on a SECOND UA daily frequency (one off because it was compensating for a cancelled frequency earlier) in a 77W with a total of 15 passengers on it, a flight that was run most likely due to massive cargo demand.

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AAguy

It was swapped to the -300ER due to onboard oxygen capabilities now that we can no longer over fly Afghanistan, with exception of a thin sliver between Tajikistan and Pakistan. The -200ER could make it if we were still able to fly over all of Afghanistan or even Iraq and Iran.

FlyerDon

I visit a major hospital every week for PT. The first question they ask me when I walk in the door is have I traveled to India or Brazil in the last 28 days. I don't think Covid is going away this winter, it could get worse if a new variant appears. My thinking is if people want to travel this fall and winter a lot of them will stay stateside and visit California or Florida or head to Mexico's beach destinations. We taxpayers have been paying the airline's labor costs for sometime now. Unless extended that expires at the end of September and the airlines will have to start paying their employees again using their own money. A flight to New Delhi would have four cockpit crew members earning combined salaries that would approach a million dollars a year. It would take at least 3 full crews to operate daily flights, and probably close to half a million pounds of fuel roundtrip. I don't see how or why AA would start this service now. Keeping those 777s flying between MIA/MCO/DFW/LAX/CUN this winter makes a lot more sense to me.

Tim Dunn

AA's decision to return to India comes after years of their own operations which is documented and verifiable by data. As much as you want to try to take a swing at Delta in the process of hoping for AA's success in yet another attempt at India, the data shows that the chances of success are low in light of data from Delta and United's service to India and their fleets and configurations. Further, there are much higher chances for Delta's success with the largest joint venture in Latin America because of their investment - in contrast to AA's investment in China Southern. If arm chairs are equipped with all of the data that I have shared, then it isn't as much of a guess as you might think.

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