By Disha Kanwar
Travellers keen to fly all the way to San Francisco on an Indian airline may soon have their wish fulfilled. The state-owned Air India is working out a plan to fly from India to San Francisco, with a stopover in Singapore. It would deploy Dreamliner (Boeing 787) aircraft on the route. The plane is 25 per cent more fuel efficient than the Boeing 777 Air India currently uses to fly to New York. The Dreamliner can fly 10-14 hours at a stretch on the route.
Ajit Singh, civil aviation minister, told Business Standard, “We are considering going to San Francisco through the West Coast. We are weighing the option of a direct flight or we can use the Dreamliner to go via Singapore.”
Currently, Air India does not fly on its own to the city. It has tied up with American Airlines. These flights (from Delhi) take between 25 and 35 hours. A flight via Singapore will take 24-25 hours. Air India flies from Delhi to New York. From there onwards, American Airlines flies the passengers to San Francisco. The government already has the fifth freedom rights with Singapore, under which passengers from India can be taken to a second country and from there to a third.
Currently, no airline offers a direct flight on this lucrative route. A majority of flights to the city go through the East Coast via Europe or West Asia. Around 400 passengers travel every day between Delhi and San Francisco. The number of carriers offering a direct service between the US and India fell to just two, Air India and United, in March 2012 when American Airlines ended its daily service between Chicago and Delhi.