As India faces the worst brunt of the pandemic, lockdowns are returning and international travel restrictions are appearing. While United will maintain three India routes, it will suspend one and delay the start of another.
United Airlines Suspends, Delays India Service
During the pandemic, United Airlines has maintained service to India; the only U.S. carrier to do so. That includes the following service:
- Newark (EWR) – Delhi (DEL)
- Newark (EWR) – Mumbai (BOM)
- San Francisco (SFO) – Delhi (DEL)
Recently, United launched Chicago – Delhi service and also planned to launch San Francisco – Bangalore later this month.
But with India reporting 400,000 new cases per day (which experts believe is a vast undercount), domestic and international restrictions are being introduced. Many countries, including the United States, have banned non-US citizens who have been in India within the last 14 days to enter the United States. Other nations have added restrictions as well.
Within India, new lockdown measures have been introduced. For example, states including Tamil Nadu and Karnataka will move to lockdown next week. Another national lockdown is also being discussed.
Adjusting to demand, United Airlines will suspend Chicago (ORD) – Delhi (DEL) service in June and delay the launch of its San Francisco – Bangalore flight from May 27th to August 1st.
In an internal memo, United told employees:
To date, we’ve flown more than 300,000 pounds of medical supplies to India and will match customer donations to our relief partners like the GlobalGiving Foundation and World Central Kitchen. We are also flying larger Boeing 777-330ER aircraft on seven roundtrip flights between ORD and DEL to accelerate relief efforts.
At the same time, we continue to monitor customer demand and are adjusting the start date of our planned service between SFO and BLR (Bangalore, India) from May 27 to August 1, as well as temporarily pausing service between ORD and DEL (New Delhi, India) during the month of June.
The three remaining routes are also being closely monitored.
With new travel restrictions and a potential national lockdown, it hardly surprising that United is pausing some India service. If case numbers do not improve, I would expect remaining flights to shift to cargo sectors and passenger service to be further limited.