After almost 50 years of continous service Air India has
quietly exited the Heathrow to New York JFK route.
Today’s final flight AI111 departed Heathrow at
1340 with the last service from New
York, flight AI112, set to depart at 1945 this
Air India has been operating this
sector since 1960, firstly with B707s, then B747s and latterly with newish
The daily flight was part of a through service
between Delhi and New York using long-standing “fifth
freedom” traffic rights (the ability of
an airline from a third country to fly passengers between two other countries).
In its place Air India
will concentrate on its existing non-stop B777 flights between Mumbai, Delhi and New
Air India’s service will be missed by
cost-conscious business and leisure travellers because it offered discounted
prices in all classes to make up for its lack of market awareness.
It seems that fiercer competition from the new
“open skies” regime, higher fuel prices and lower revenues all conspired to
make Air India
quit the route.
With Air India set to join Star Alliance in
2009 it had been thought that this transatlantic link would be a valuable
addition to the Star network. (Following the withdrawal of United from
London-New York a few years ago no Star carrier is represented). Sadly this is
not to be.
For more information go to airindia.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter