American Airlines is seeing a strong response from the Indian market just days after starting its first route. The New York-Delhi inaugural route saw an impressive 92% load factor, and leaders have stated that bookings remain strong through winter. With a great start, American is looking beyond just two routes and potentially adding more in the future.
American’s decision to deploy its largest jet, 777-300ER, from JFK to Delhi has paid off. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
In a statement to BusinessLine, American Airlines’ MD of Sales for the EMEA region, Tom Lattig, spoke about the launch of the Delhi-JFK route and its success. On November 13th, the scheduled American Airlines flight departed New York bound for Indian shores for the first time since 2012.
The flight was a busy one, with the airline reporting a 92% passenger load factor (PLF), meaning at least 280 of the 304 seats onboard were filled. The PLF was helped by the US border reopening last week, which allows all vaccinated passengers to fly to the country once again.
While inaugural flights are usually full, American is seeing substantial booking numbers for a while. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
However, this wasn’t a one-hit-wonder flight. American is currently reporting a 75% average PLF for the total capacity in the next two months. While the winter season tends to see a lot of travel, COVID has made last-minute bookings the norm, making this an impressive showing for the new entrant.
The success of the Delhi route is fueling some ambition over at American Airlines. Currently, the airline is set to launch a new route from Bangalore to Seattle but delayed this service to March 2022 at the earliest. The carrier has said it is waiting on critical corporate travelers to return to the skies before launching the route.
However, while BLR-SEA is a novel route, American is also eying some other well-established corridors. When asked about a possible service from Mumbai, Lattig did not shy away, saying American is “interested” and highlighted the city as one it hopes to operate from in the future.
American Airlines is waiting for corporate travel to rebound before launching the Bangalore-Seattle service. Photo: American Airlines
However, any talk of a BOM-JFK route is premature, and American will first be looking at the success of the DEL-JFK service over an entire season. Low capacity to the US, the border reopening, and the busy wintertime travel may all be skewing the success of the route currently. Once India allows all scheduled international flights to resume, American might see a dip in PLFs.
Fuel in focus
For airlines around the world, the biggest discussion point has become the rising cost of fuel. American Airlines is not immune to the issue, especially in the context of long-haul flights to India. Speaking about the rise in fuel costs, Lattig said,
“We will try our best to pass on the cost to the customer but if it results in a lot higher prices that customers aren’t willing to pay, then we’re going to have to keep our prices down.”
This means the flight prices might go up gradually soon, hurting American’s fledgling presence. However, don’t expect to see a sharp rise in tickets soon, with the airline still focused on establishing itself in India first.
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