Toronto’s Newest Nonstop Connections to India Are Expected This Fall

Jun 23, 2019

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This story first appeared on our content partner Live from a Lounge, an aviation-focused blog based in India. The story appears on our site at it appeared on Live from a Lounge. Here is a link to the original post: Air India to start flights between Amritsar/Delhi & Toronto from Sept. 27.

Air India, India’s most prominent international carrier, continues its expansion. Air India flights from Delhi to San Francisco were launched three times a week in December 2015 and have since tripled in frequency to nine times a week. The sector was a massive hit for the carrier.

Air India added service to New York by launching an Ahmedabad-to-Newark service with a stopover in London, which it eventually replaced, adding Bangalore-to-London service in its place. It also began flights to Madrid in December 2016 and took over flights from Delhi to Vienna from Austrian Airlines.

Air India flights to Washington from Delhi began on July 7, 2017, as well and are now operating three times a week. Service to Stockholm and Copenhagen also started completed, which operates regularly.

Since introducing Boeing 787s to its fleet, Air India is still trying to put them to good use. They’ve added more flights to Sydney and are exploring more flights to Melbourne as well. Israel gets three weekly flights too, as Air India is the first airline to be able to overfly Saudi Arabian airspace to access the Middle Eastern country. Air India then launched four weekly flights on the Mumbai–Frankfurt route in October 2018.

Air India had intentions of adding flights from Mumbai to JFK for quite some time. The carrier finally followed through by launching three weekly flights on Mumbai – New York in December 2018 using a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. However, due to the prolonged closure of Pakistani airspace and lower-than-expected demand, Air India stopped its Mumbai to JFK service just months after starting it.

Air India Business Class onboard its new Boeing 777-300ER
Air India Business Class onboard its new Boeing 777-300ER

 

Much of the expansion and increased utilization of aircraft came during Ashwani Lohan’s stint as Air India’s CEO from September 2015 to August 2017. Lohani has been back as Air India’s CEO since February 2019, and has continued his efforts to revitalize the airline since returning. Air India has wanted to start a Delhi–Los Angeles route for quite some time. Lohani hinted at starting the route in his previous tenure, as well as since he’s returned to the role. Still, no concrete details on an LAX route have emerged as of now.

Since bringing back its New York service, Air India has sought to increase its frequency this year. Lohani told Business Standard that “Our US routes are doing well, and we are considering a second service between Delhi-New York from October.”

Air India’s operations in Canada were off and on for years. It used to operate a 747-200 on a Toronto-Montreal-London-Delhi route but stopped flying to Canada after the bombing of AI182 on June 23, 1985. Two decades later, Air India restarted Canada operations in 2005 via London. Later on, Air India operated flights to Toronto from both Delhi and Amritsar via London.

 

Air India 777-300ER
Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy

 

Air India’s Amritsar-London-Toronto flights recorded one of the highest occupancies. In 2010, Air India started daily non-stop Delhi-Toronto flights instead of 4x weekly Amritsar-London-Toronto and 3x weekly Delhi-London-Toronto flights. But due to an increase in fuel prices, among other factors, Canada was a loss-leading sector for Air India. The carrier pulled out of Toronto a year later.

On June 14, the new Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri announced that Air India would restart flights to Toronto. Air India will operate three weekly 777-300ER flights on a Amritsar to Toronto route with a stopover in Delhi from Sept. 27. The schedule for the flight isn’t out yet.

Air India operates 13 777-300ER and three 777-200LR for commercial services. Air India had put two 777-300ER in storage for 8-10 months, and due to lack of spare parts even cancelled their three weekly flights from Bombay to JFK. This leaves them with spare 777-300ER aircraft to operate the new route.

Air India is filling a gap in its network. Jet Airways used to operate Delhi-Amsterdam-Toronto flights before suspending operations. Air India’s fellow Star Alliance member, Air Canada which briefly halted flights on its Delhi-Toronto sector, restarted flights in 2015 and later added a daily service with a 787-9. Due to the prolonged closure of Pakistani airspace, it has suspended the route till Sept. 1. However, Air Canada is still operating non-stop Vancouver to Delhi flights with a 787-9 using the Pacific route on the inbound sector. Air Canada also operates flights from Mumbai to Toronto seasonally.

Air India, however, hasn’t yet announced or publicized the route yet nor has it opened up bookings yet, although they are expected to begin selling tickets shortly.

Featured photo by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy.

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