National carrier Air India has been given approval by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to fly over the Pacific Ocean on its New Delhi to San Francisco (SF) route. It is the first Indian airline to fly over the Pacific Ocean. Previously, the airline flew over the Atlantic Ocean to reach SF from India.

Though flying over the Pacific Ocean is 1,400km longer, strong tailwinds will add speed to the airline, thus cutting its flight time by up to three hours. It will also save the airline significant sums of money, as fuel consumption will be reduced by a wide margin.

National news channel NDTV quoted a senior Air India pilot, who stated: “The Boeing 777-200 LR aircraft, used on the route by Air India, will get only strong tailwinds on its eastward journey and cut flying time by up to an hour in summer, and three hours in winter. This will mean huge fuel savings too. So it will be a win-win for flyers and the airline as passengers will reach San Francisco faster while the airline will burn less fuel.”

This couldn’t have come at a better time for Air India, which is inching its way out of recent losses. It has announced a rise in flight frequency from three to six times weekly between New Delhi and San Francisco from November.