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Amid rising student demand, Air India to double US flights

The doubled frequency, however, is still half the 40 flights a week that Air India operated prior to the US government order in May banning travellers from India due to rising Covid-19 cases here.

Written by Pranav Mukul | New Delhi |
Updated: July 31, 2021 1:40:36 pm
The doubled frequency is still half the 40 flights a week Air India flew prior to the US order in May. (File)

Air India is increasing the frequency of its flights to the US by over two times to 21 flights a week from August 7, compared to less than 10 weekly flights operated in July, as demand from students travelling to US universities for the commencement of fall semester surges, an Air India official said.

The doubled frequency, however, is still half the 40 flights a week that Air India operated prior to the US government order in May banning travellers from India due to rising Covid-19 cases here.

Travel restrictions imposed by the United States, in addition to a curb on Indian travellers to the UAE, had led to a situation where students travelling to the US found themselves with significantly fewer travel options and inflated ticket prices. India and China are the top two countries from where student visas are issued for the US.

In a tweet, the flag carrier said: “Air India will operate additional flights between New Delhi & Newark on 6th,13th, 20th & 27th August ‘21. These are in addition to the existing flights operating on this sector”. In addition to Air India, American carriers United and Delta also fly between the two nations. In the US, Air India operates flights to New York (John F Kennedy), Newark, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco. Following the US travel ban order, Air India had to cancel several of its flights.

“Because of the curtailed schedule, we had to reschedule the passengers in a staggered manner leading to some passengers getting reschedules that were almost a month after their original flight,” the Air India official said, adding that the situation is expected to be better in August.

Sector trackers, however, pointed out that not all students may be able to join the fall semester on time due to the curtailed flight schedules.

“With flight shortages and visa delays, many students who had planned to join US universities this fall, may not be able to join them on time. While the US government is allowing students to enter the country 30 days prior to the start of their studies, there is a shortage of flights to the country, which has led to a decline in seats and rise in ticket prices,” EaseMyTrip CEO Nishant Pitti told The Indian Express.

“In fact, we are expecting an unprecedented surge of students travelling in the second half of this year as many of them have deferred their courses and study plans by a year,” he said.

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