In late May, Delta announced that they plan to launch flights to Mumbai in 2019. This came shortly after the US and UAE reached an agreement in the Open Skies debate, which Delta credited for being able to launch this route. However, since the agreement essentially maintained the status quo, it’s clear that the timing of this announcement was political.
Obviously Delta flying to India is now finally economical thanks to their partnership with Jet Airways, which will provide connecting traffic for this flight. They didn’t have this partnership a few years ago.
When Delta first announced their intentions to fly to India, they didn’t reveal out of which hub they’d do so. Here was my speculation at the time:
The way I see it, the most likely options are Atlanta, New York JFK, or Detroit (roughly in that order).
- Atlanta to Mumbai would cover a distance of ~8,500 miles; Atlanta is Delta’s biggest hub, so my first assumption is that this is the most likely
- Detroit to Mumbai would cover a distance of ~8,000 miles; on the surface this doesn’t seem like the most logical route, though perhaps it’s a happy middle ground between Atlanta and New York, as the route is a bit shorter than out of Atlanta, and it’s also one of Delta’s more reliable hubs
- New York JFK to Mumbai would cover a distance of ~7,800 miles; geographically New York JFK makes the most sense since they’d be able to funnel the most passengers through there efficiently, and New York to Mumbai is also a big market, though Air India and United already operate routes between the two cities
While the hub out of which Delta will fly to India still hasn’t been set in stone, Delta’s SVP of Network Planning hinted at the most likely course of action for the airline, as noted by The Atlanta Business Chronicle.
He says that the airline is considering both Atlanta and New York for the new route, but “we’d probably prep Atlanta,” and that this is a “great investment” for the entire Southeast network.
So that doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me, though it’s interesting to hear the Atlanta is the first choice, and that Detroit definitely isn’t happening. At 8,510 miles, this would be Delta’s longest route, and just slightly longer than their Atlanta to Johannesburg route, which is 8,439 miles.
This leads me to believe that Delta will use a 777-200LR for their route to Mumbai. Best I can tell, Mumbai to Atlanta would be right at the operational limit for an A350-900, and they might have to take a hit on either cargo or passengers to make it work, at least on days with strong headwinds. Or at least it would be very close, I imagine.
For that matter it’s perfectly logical that they’d use the 777-200LR for both Johannesburg and Mumbai, since they’re by far the two longest routes the airline operates. Delta is also in the process of updating their 777-200LRs with Delta One Suites and premium economy.
Are you surprised that Delta is leaning towards Atlanta for their flight to India?