United to Relaunch Flights to India In September
United will resume nonstop flights between the US and India in September, a United spokesperson confirmed to TPG on Tuesday night. Both Newark (EWR) to Mumbai (BOM) and New Delhi (DEL) will resume on Sept. 6, 2019, after being grounded for the past few months. Also, United confirmed it will proceed with its planned launch of the San Francisco (SFO) to New Delhi route on Dec. 5.
Over the past few years, United has been the only US-based airline to fly nonstop between the US and India. However, both of United's flights to India were grounded in the past few months due to airspace restrictions and other concerns.
In April, the Newark-New Delhi route was suspended due to the closure of Pakistan airspace. That airspace closure began in February after Indian jet fighters bombed Pakistan in retaliation for a suicide bombing by a Pakistan-based militant group. This closure forced airlines to take much longer routes to/from India. Combined with seasonal high winds, United was unable keep operating this flight.
However, United continued operating its Newark-Mumbai route for the next few months until another geopolitical event: the escalation of tensions between the US and Iran. Citing "airspace restrictions over Western Asia" as the reason, United suspended the Newark-Mumbai route as well in June.
With tensions cooling between Pakistan and India, Pakistan announced the reopening of its airspace to overflights earlier this week. Shortly after this reopening, United says it worked with its network operations and planning teams to schedule a relaunch of its daily routes to India starting Sept. 6.
United will operate the Newark-Mumbai route using a Polaris-installed Boeing 777-300ER on the following schedule:
- UA 48 -- Newark (EWR) 8:10pm departure ⇒ Mumbai (BOM) 8:50pm arrival +1 day
- UA 49 -- Mumbai (BOM) 11:20pm departure ⇒ Newark (EWR) 5:30am arrival +1 day
The Newark-New Delhi route will operate using a Boeing 777-200 on the following schedule:
- UA 82 -- Newark (EWR) 10:05pm departure ⇒ New Delhi (DEL) 9:30pm arrival +1 day
- UA 83 -- New Delhi (DEL) 11:35pm departure ⇒ Newark (EWR) 4:55am arrival +1 day
Only half of United's 777-200 aircraft have been retrofit with Polaris, and unfortunately it doesn't look like this route is being assigned these Polaris-equipped aircraft:
Unfortunately, there's no business class saver award availability on either route for the first few months. Even economy award availability is sparse for September-October. However, most dates are available in economy in January-February 2020:
In a statement to TPG, A United spokesperson confirmed that the airline is "excited to get back to connecting our customers and employees between the US and India in September, and we’re looking forward to starting brand new service between San Francisco and Delhi in December."
The airline is also "reaching out to customers who may have cancelled or rescheduled their travel in the last 24 hours with information about the newly announced service date as well as to offer new booking options."