United is reducing its India routes as demand takes a hit following a US travel ban and a sharp rise in cases. The carrier will also delay the launch of its long-awaited Bangalore-San Francisco route from this month to early August.
According to Reuters, United is suspending the new Delhi-Chicago route starting from June 1st. The service currently operates daily and only commenced last December, as demand for direct flights rose. United hopes to return to the DEL-ORD route in July, although this would depend on traffic bouncing back.
However, until the route is suspended on June 1st, United is actually boosting capacity. The carrier will deploy one of its Boeing 777-300ER in lieu of its 787-9 to serve the Delhi-Chicago route. The carrier says this decision has been made to boost repatriation services for travelers in both countries as well as send more critical medical cargo.
According to RadarBox.com, the change actually started on May 4th, and United has been flying its largest aircraft since then. The 77W features 340 seats in a three-class configuration (four including Economy Plus) compared to roughly 250 on the 787.
Delhi-Chicago isn’t the only United route impacted by this decision to scale back its India’s operations. The carrier’s much-awaited Bangalore-San Fransisco route has been delayed from its planned launch on May 27th. Instead, the routes will now launch on August 1st, if all goes to plan.
This most recent delay will be a blow to many who have been waiting for this route since September. Air India chose to challenge United on this route and began flights in January, although it too has reduced frequencies now.
Overall, these reductions will be a blow to the growing number of new direct flights between India and the US. With connecting carriers still not allowed to carry Indians beyond their home carriers, US airlines have been bullish on travel from India.
Despite all these changes, United will continue to maintain all of its pre-pandemic routes to India. This means Delhi and Mumbai to Newark, and Delhi to San Francisco will continue operating on a daily basis as previously. This ensures that essential connectivity to the US remains unhindered for those who are eligible to travel.
United is not the only airline slashing frequencies due to the current situation. Air India has also reduced services as demand fell when the travel went into effect on May 4th. Until the ban is lifted, expect airlines to continue only flying barebones service to cater to cargo demand and the limited repatriation traffic between the US and India.
What do you think about United’s decision to cut flights between India and the US? Let us know in the comments!