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Atlanta Airport Officials Meet With Indian Airline Leaders Amid Aerospace Mission

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    Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

    IATA/ICAO Code:
    ATL/KATL

    Country:
    United States

    CEO:
    Balram Bheodari

    Passenger Count :
    75,704,760 (2021)

    Runways :
    8L/26R – 2743m (9,000 ft) |8R/26L – 3048m (9,999 ft) |9L/27R – 3776m (12,390 ft) |9R/27L – 2743 m (12,390 ft) |10/28 – 2743 m (9,000 ft)

    Terminals:
    Main Terminal | Domestic Terminal

Officials from Atlanta airport recently engaged with industry leaders in India to discuss, among other things, possible direct connections to the city from India. The talks come at a time when there’s renewed interest in increasing flight frequency between the two countries from various airlines, most notably Air India. But while several US-India airport combinations have been considered recently, Atlanta has largely been ignored.


Push for direct flights

Last month, officials from Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) visited India to discuss trade opportunities and, possibly, having non-stop connections to the city from India.

SIMPLEFLYING VIDEO OF THE DAY

The four-day India Aerospace Mission, led by the US International Trade Administration, was attended by Atlanta airport’s General Manager Balram Bheodari, Deputy General Manager and Chief Commercial Officer J’Aimeka Farrell, and International Affairs Director Alrene Barr, who joined 15 organizations visiting the cities of Delhi and Hyderabad.

ATL officials spoke with leaders of Indian airlines recently. Photo: Getty Images

According to Global Atlanta, the visit included ATL officials meeting several people from the industry, such as the GMR Group, an infrastructure company that also deals with MRO facilities, as well as executive leaders for several India-based airlines to discuss mutual growth opportunities.

The case for India-Atlanta flights

Atlanta is home to more than 100,000 people of Indian origin, but there is no direct flight linking the city to India, despite strong requests for years.

While airlines are linking several US destinations with India, Atlanta has not received the same level of attention. Could it be that they have been dissuaded by Delta’s previous attempt at operating non-stop flights between Atlanta and Mumbai (BOM)?

In August 2008, Delta Air Lines announced a new daily non-stop flight between ATL and BOM. The almost 18-hour flight entered service in November that year, but just over six months later, it pulled the non-stop route.

Delta Air Lines briefly had a non-stop flight between Atlanta and Mumbai. Photo: Getty Images

The airline said that decision to stop the service was due to low passenger demand and the “illegally subsidized Middle East carriers” that plagued the carrier’s competition and made operations almost impossible against far lower prices. When it returned to India ten years later, it chose New York (JFK) instead of Atlanta for a non-stop connection.

Nothing in the pipeline

But much has changed since 2008, including a renewed preference for non-stop flights after the pandemic. Air India, United, and American Airlines are all eyeing more flights between the two countries, but Atlanta hasn’t featured on the list so far.

American and United together already offer direct services to New York (JFK and EWR), Chicago (ORD), and San Francisco (SFO), and their future plans include other west coast destinations such as Seattle (SEA).

Even Air India, which recently added 20 additional flights to the UK and US, included six more flights to SFO, in addition to its existing services to New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC (IAD).

Anyone traveling from ATL to India has to rely mainly on Middle East airlines or connections from Europe, such as Frankfurt (FRA), but that could change once Air India strengthens its fleet in the coming years.

With more fuel-efficient long-range jets like the Airbus A350 expected to join its fleet as part of its larger expansion program, AI could be expected to consider Atlanta as a destination with competitive fares. Perhaps the latest meeting between the ATL and India officials could act as a catalyst to start direct flights to the city sooner rather than later.

Do you think Indian and US carriers should start direct services to Atlanta? Please share your opinions in the comment section.

Source: Global Atlanta

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