The state-owned Air India has put on hold the launch of its much-talked-about flight service to Los Angeles from New Delhi, announced earlier this year.
Sources at the airline said non-availability of aircraft and crew coupled with higher costs of operations were the prime reasons for the deferment. Then Air India chief Ashwani Lohani had in July said that the national carrier would add Los Angeles to its international route network from the coming winter. “The proposed New Delhi-Los Angeles flight does not figure in our network this winter. We may look at introducing it in the summer schedule,” a source told PTI.
Air India flies non-stop services to New York, Newark, San Francisco and Washington in the US. It also has a one-stop service to New York from Ahmedabad via London. Three of these services -— New Delhi-San Francisco, New Delhi-Washington and Ahmedabad-New York via London — have been launched within the last two years. “Non-availability of aircraft and crew as well as suitable parking slots have forced the management to decide not to introduce the flight till March next year,” the source said.
Air India was offered parking slots in such timings that the aircraft would have been on ground after landing for several hours and “that does not make the operations viable”, the source added. As per the earlier schedule, the new service was to be operated three times a week — Wednesday, Friday and Sunday —- with a 342-seater B777-300 (extended range) airline.
AI had even invited bids for providing hotel at Los Angeles for crew layover. Air India, a part of 28-member international airlines grouping Star Alliance, has 36 destinations in its overseas network across the US, Europe, Australia, Far-East and Southeast Asia and the Gulf.