The international air travel market faces massive challenges in Asia, but that isn’t stopping some airlines from planning long-haul growth, particularly into India. Three announcements this week will bring additional flights from Europe to the sub-continent, with onward connections across the Atlantic.
Finnair currently flies between Delhi and its Helsinki hub four times weekly. As of July 2020 that service will expand to daily flights and continue with the increased schedule into the upcoming winter season. The carrier notes that the flight times are well suited for connections elsewhere in Europe or to North America. The flights are operated on Finnair’s A330.
Air France’s growing route map
Air France will add a new Indian destination to its network, with Chennai service launching this summer. Service from Paris-Charles de Gaulle launches from 14 June 2020, with 3x weekly flights operated on the 787-9. The airport becomes the fourth destination in the country for the carrier, joining Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore on the route map.
Flights are timed well for westbound connections and for some eastbound flights, though the 10:10am departure from CDG requires an early arrival in Paris on an inbound flight.
Virgin Atlantic boosts its second hub
Finally, Virgin Atlantic will add flights between Manchester and Delhi, starting in the Winter 2020-2021 season. The Virgin flight will operate 3x weekly on an A330-200, augmenting twice daily flights from Heathrow to Delhi and a daily service from Heathrow to Mumbai.
Unlike the others, the new Virgin route is less well timed for transatlantic connections, though some would still be possible with a long break in Manchester.
Against the backdrop of collapse
These new flights join several others recently launched against the backdrop of the Jet Airways collapse. Now a year in to that carrier’s cessation of service, the market is backfilling in the capacity cuts with a more diverse and targeted approach to routes. Service to secondary cities (Helsinki, Manchester and Chennai all qualify) could reduce the value of the major trunk routes, or at least relieve the pressure from those flights as passengers avoid the mega-hubs.
That Jet Airways appears closer than ever to liquidation rather than rescue also supports these new services’ chance for success.