Delta plans to restart flights to Mumbai

Taj Mahal Palace and Towers Hotel, Mumbai, India. Taken 11/15/2008 during a business trip.
Taj Mahal Palace and Towers Hotel, Mumbai, India. Taken 11/15/2008 during a business trip.

Credit: Donnie ONeal

Credit: Donnie ONeal

Delta Air Lines said it plans to restart nonstop flights from the United States to Mumbai next year.

Atlanta-based Delta made the announcement in the wake of U.S. agreements reached earlier this year with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said the new flights would be from Atlanta or New York.

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The agreements with Qatar and the U.A.E. were aimed at addressing concerns Delta, United and American had raised about an un-level playing field with foreign carriers they say are receiving subsidies from their governments.

Delta said the India market has been “long impacted by government-subsidized Middle Eastern airlines.”

“The move will mark a return to India for Delta, which was forced to exit the market after subsidized state-owned airlines made service economically unviable,” Delta said in a written statement.

Plans for the new flights are subject to government approval, and Delta said it will announce details on the service later this year. Delta said it also plans to expand its “code-share” marketing partnership with Jet Airways, if it gets government approval.

Delta previously flew to Mumbai from Atlanta and New York, but discontinued the service in 2009.

In 2015, Delta executive vice president Peter Carter wrote that "the U.S. airlines operate almost no service to India because they have been driven out of the market by the subsidized Gulf airlines."

But in 2012, when Delta was challenging practices of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, Delta's then general counsel Ben Hirst wrote in an editorial for the AJC that between 2006 and 2009, "Ex-Im provided Air India $3.3 billion in loan guarantees, which the airline used to finance long-range aircraft at below-market rates. Air India then used its new subsidized capacity to flood the U.S.-India market, dropping ticket prices by more than 30 percent, a level at which Delta could not compete. When Delta lost that route due to Ex-Im subsidy, its employees suffered."

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