Switzerland loses Delhi link

21 Feb 2007 by business traveller

Air Canada's decision to pull off the Zurich-Delhi route from May 1 deprives Switzerland of its sole link with the Indian capital.

The Canadian carrier operated a daily Zurich-Delhi service by B767-300 as an extension of its overnight service from Toronto. Air Canada code-shared the service with fellow Star Alliance member Swiss.

It had been thought that any airline flying to India (because of the high passenger numbers) would find it a licence to print money. And according to the 2001 census there are 700,000 people of Indian origin residing in Canada. But unless the yield (revenue per seat) is healthy airlines with high costs cannot make a profit.

According to a spokesperson for Air Canada in London, "The route didn't meet our financial performance objectives. The aircraft will be deployed instead to mainland China this summer. It will enable us to operate a twice daily service on the Vancouver-Beijing route."

Industry sources say that airlines flying to India need to run their planes with an 80 per cent load factor in order to be profitable. That's because ticket prices are falling as more carriers enter the market.

Air Canada is facing stiff price competition from the likes of Gulf carriers such as Etihad, Emirates and, soon, Qatar Airways who are all tapping its North American market.

From May, Swiss passengers bound for Delhi will have to make connections using Star member Lufthansa via Frankfurt.

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Report by Alex McWhirter

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