Friday, December 5, 2014

Air Canada returns to New Delhi effective November’15

In an unexpected announcement, Air Canada (IATA code AC) announced resumption of services to New Delhi (IATA code: DEL) beginning November’15. (Winter Schedule-2015). The flights will be operated by B787 Dreamliner aircraft, and the press release claims this will be the first route with the longer range B787-9, which will operate on two of three weekly services proposed by the airline.

The airline will operate this non-stop service four times a week,
Days of the week
21:15 (+ 1 day)
Monday*, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
Tuesday, Wednesday*,Thursday, Sunday
Departure from Toronto on Monday & from Delhi on Wednesday will be operated by B787-800.

Historic and current links to Canada
While Air India operated Amritsar – Delhi – Toronto flight, the same was pulled out owning to heavy losses in May’12. Air Canada also,in the past operated flights on the Toronto – Delhi sector. Both the airlines had flown this route with the B777 variants and Air Canada will benefit from the favorable economics of the B787 over the B777.

Currently only Jet Airways operates a flight to Toronto, via its hub at Brussels from Delhi, with connections from Mumbai.  With talks of Jet Airways shifting its hub from Brussels to Amsterdam or to Abu Dhabi, the future of flights to Toronto would be in question.

B787 – Dreamliner
The aircraft has its share of problems across the globe, including with Indian national carrier Air India. While Air India has two class configurations, Air Canada has configured its Dreamliner’s (B787-800 variant) in three class configurations with 20 Business, 21 Premium Economy and 210 Economy class seats. The Star Alliance member is yet to reveal the configurations of its longer B787-900 variant.  

While the B787-900 will have wingspan and fuselage same as those of the -800 variant, it is expected to be longer by 6 meters and higher Maximum Take Off Weight (MTOW), with a range of 15372km, compared to 14500km of the smaller B787-800 variant.

Delhi Hub & Connectivity
Not long ago, Star Alliance had made intentions clear about having a hub at Delhi along with Mumbai. Clearly the entry of Air India in Star Alliance is helping Delhi develop itself as a hub, along with attracting global traffic.

As per existing schedules of Air India, the inbound flight would connect to multiple destinations
Connection Time
1 - 3 hours
Mumbai(AI), HongKong(AI), Bangkok(TG)
3 - 6 hours

6 - 9 hours
Ahmedabad(AI), Lucknow(AI), Pune(AI)
9+ hours
Khatmandu(AI), Hyderabad(AI), Chennai(AI), Kolkata(AI), Kochi(AI)

Connection Time
1 - 3 hours
Chennai(AI), Mumbai(AI), Ahmedabad(AI), Kochi(AI), Kolkata(AI), Bangkok(TG)
3 - 6 hours
Singapore(SQ), Pune(AI), Hongkong(AI), Lucknow(AI)
6 - 9 hours

9+ hours

Re-timings would help Air Canada connect both ways to Singapore on Singapore Airlines, while it would already connect to Bangkok on Thai Airways – both Star Alliance members.

While this new link is a welcome move, the traffic between Canada & India has remained stagnant for a while. The traffic patterns are mainly seasonal and there are ample options available via Europe, Middle East & the USA.

Resistance of Canadian government to grant more rights to Middle Eastern carriers and requirement of US visa for transit would benefit this non-stop service of Air Canada. 

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