AI to start Delhi-NY flights in Feb 08

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New Delhi, Oct 25: Air India (AI) will launch non-stop daily flights connecting Delhi and New York by February 2008, a senior official said today.

The government-owned airline will use brand new Boeing 777-300 ER (extended range) aircraft to operate on the busy route.

AI has chalked out ambitious plans to emerge as a world-class international carrier after its merger with Indian (Airlines). The merger process is underway and route rationalisation will take off when the winter schedule starts on October 28.

''The merged entity, which will have a fleet of 115 plus aircraft initially, will offer passengers seamless travel across domestic and international routes,'' said the official. ''It will also have one of the youngest fleets among international airlines.'' In the past three years, AI has expanded its fleet by inducting 22 aircraft -- four B777-200ER, five B747-400s, one B747-400 Combi and 12 Airbus 310s.

Induction of these dry-leased aircraft, pending delivery of 68 new aircraft between February 2007 and 2012, has enabled the national carrier to increase frequencies to many of its existing destinations and introduce several new flights.

This includes introduction of: a daily service on the India-Paris-Newark sector, thrice weekly flights from Delhi to Los Angeles via Frankfurt, four flights to Shanghai from Mumbai via Delhi-Bangkok, four flights to Seoul from Mumbai via Delhi-Hong Kong, terminator flights to London from Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, five flights on the Delhi-Amritsar-Birmingham-Toronto sector, thrice-weekly flights on the Delhi-Dhaka-Kolkata-London sector.

AI currently operates 31 weekly services to four destinations in the United States -- New York, Newark, Chicago and Los Angeles. On August 1 last year, it started a daily non-stop flight between Mumbai and New York following the induction of brand new Boeing 777-200LR in its fleet. The flight departs from Mumbai at 0045 hrs and arrives in JFK at 0710 hrs the same day. It returns from JFK at 2130 hrs and reaches Mumbai at 2215 hrs the next day.

The B777-200 LR is billed technologically as among the most advanced aircraft in the world today, offering passengers 400 hours of video and audio entertainment on demand provided in every seat by Thales, a world leader in digital inflight entertainment. Since December 2002, AI's network has expanded to cover Newark and Los Angeles in addition to New York and Chicago in the United States. The capacity has also been increased from 10 to 24 flights per week -- a daily service to Newark, New York and Chicago and three times a week to Los Angeles.

Likewise, flights to Britain have been increased from 10 to 30 -- 25 of these to London and five to Birmingham. Frequencies have also been increased on Southeast Asia and Far East routes.

The Star Alliance, a mega-club of 17 airlines spearheaded by Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, has cleared the entry AI to the global aviation group. The arrangement will come into effect early next year, giving passengers seamless connectivity with the networks of all Star Alliance partner airlines.

They will also be able to use their frequent flier miles on any Star Alliance carrier. Members of the alliance fly to 855 destinations in 155 countries.


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