NEW DELHI: United has temporarily suspended its daily Delhi-San Francisco (SFO) and Mumbai-Newark (EWR) flights as it stops overflying Russia in wake of the Ukraine crisis. The US carrier’s other two dailies — Delhi-EWR and Delhi-Chicago — are continuing as they do not overfly Russian airspace. At this point, Air India — which still overflies Russia — is the only nonstop between Delhi and SFO and Mumbai and EWR.
“United has temporarily suspended flying over Russian airspace to operate our flights to and from Mumbai and Delhi, India,” a United spokesperson told TOI.
United’s temporary but indefinite suspension, say travel industry insiders, will mean greater demand for AI nonstops on the affected US routes. In fact AI had started the Delhi-SFO direct about six years back which became so popular with flyers that United also started flights on the same. Vistara is looking at starting India-US nonstops an an announcement could be made in coming days.
“Crude is already at $110 a barrel and rupee is weakening vis-a-vis the US dollar. Together these make US nonstops a very costly affair. Only if priced right, do they make sense. At this time given the long period of uncertainty, anyone operating nonstops with a decent product can charge a premium,” said an airline official.
The US Federal Aviation Administration recently expanded the area in eastern Europe and Russia where US commercial airlines can’t operate — all of Ukraine, Belarus and a western portion of Russia.