There’s no official confirmation yet, but news reports from India say that national carrier Air India might have its eye on a new route to San Francisco that would be the world’s longest non-stop.
Giving credence to the reports is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to the U.S. this week, which includes a visit to Silicon Valley companies like Google HQ in Mountain View and Tesla Motors in Fremont, California.
The Times of India says that Air India wants to link San Francisco with India’s tech center at Bengaluru (Bangalore), using a long-range 777-200. That’s a trip of just over 8,700 miles.
The newspaper noted that would beat out Qantas’ 8,531 mile non-stop between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Sydney, the current record-holder. The Bengaluru-SFO flight would take 17 to 18 hours. It would also top Emirates’ planned new route from Dubai to Panama City next year, which will be 8,550 miles.
The newspaper said if Air India doesn’t go for the Bengaluru-San Francisco route, it might opt for Delhi-SFO instead.
We’ve heard Air India talk about nonstops to San Francisco before, but it’s never amounted to more than talk. When we asked our contacts at SFO about the possibility, they played it down saying that they had no confirmation, but were “encouraged by these statements.”
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Air India is a member of the Star Alliance.
Air India’s only current U.S. routes are to Chicago and New York.
In April of this year, the FAA said it had determined that India is now in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s safety standards for air travel, and thus it reinstated a Category 1 safety rating for the country.
That change means India‘s airlines are once again permitted to add new flights to the U.S., something they hadn’t been able to do after the country was downgraded to Category 2. That happened following a 2012 FAA audit that found some deficiencies in India’s aviation system.
Have you ever flown Air India? How was it? Would you fly Air India for 17-18 hours?
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