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 evening.
Air India has been operating this sector since 1960, firstly with B707s, then B747s and latterly with newish B777s.
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 York.
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