Inside Air India’s Record North America Flights This Winter

Air India’s brand-new Mumbai to San Francisco nonstop service takes off in early December – in barely two months. It means it’ll have 11 routes to North America this winter, its highest number yet.


It follows Air India revealing it’ll lease 30 aircraft, including five B777-200LRs, while returning existing aircraft to service. Under the transformation plan, new ownership, and new CEO, Air India is in expansion mode.


What’s happening?

Air India’s recently announced Mumbai to San Francisco will be its third route to the city. It’ll join Bengaluru – which will now resume in December and not October – and long-standing Delhi. It’ll have 16x weekly flights to San Francisco, its highest to date. I look at Mumbai-San Francisco below.

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The Star Alliance airline will have 11 routes to North America this winter: nine to the USA and two to Canada. That’s nearly double the six routes it had in pre-pandemic winter 2019 and up from ten in winter 2020 and winter 2021. According to OAG, it has 351,000 nonstop North America seats this winter, as shown below.

Winter 2022 capacity is pretty impressive. But will traffic keep pace with the additional seats, driving seat load factor and revenue? Source of data: OAG.

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First Mumbai-San Francisco nonstop

The biggest change is the brand-new Mumbai-San Francisco. Air India’s website shows that it’ll start on December 15th – not the 2nd, as reported in many places.

At 8,406 miles (13,529km), it’ll run 3x weekly using three-class, 238-seat B777-200LRs. These have eight first seats, 35 in business, and 195 in economy. It is scheduled as follows, with all times local:

  • Mumbai to San Francisco: AI179, 14: 30-17: 00 (block time 16h)
  • San Francisco to Mumbai: AI180, 21: 00-03: 40 + 2 (17h 10m)

Booking data shows that, in 2019, the market had 148,000 roundtrip passengers with an average one-way fare (excluding taxes and any fuel surcharge) of $ 510. It was Mumbai’s largest unserved market in North America. It means that, when split equally across the year, San Francisco had 203 passengers daily each way to / from Mumbai.

As Delhi is Air India’s main hub, seven of its routes are from the city. The addition of Mumbai-San Francisco means the California airport, also important in Star Alliance terms, has more routes than any other North America airport.

Note that Bengaluru-San Francisco resumes on December 2nd – not the 15th, as reported in many places. And while not bookable, OAG shows that it is scheduled at 5x weekly from December. This isn’t to say that’ll happen – it probably won’t – but it has been filed.

What do you make of it all? Let us know in the comments.

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