MIAMI – Air India (AI) will start a direct flight between Hyderabad (HYD) and Chicago (ORD) beginning January 9, 2021. This marks the first scheduled service between south India and the US.

Also, beginning January 11, AI will begin twice-weekly nonstop service between Bengaluru (BLR) and San Francisco (SFO). The airline will fly a 238-seat Boeing 777-200LR on this route.

According to the Times of India, United Airlines (UA) will start direct flights on this route beginning May 6. American Airlines (AA) has stated plans to connect Bengaluru to Seattle in late 2021.

A senior Air India official said, “We plan to launch Hyberadad-Chicago as a twice-weekly beginning January 9. The date for Bengaluru-SFO will be finalized soon. We are awaiting US clearance for both of these routes.”

Photo: Max Langley/Airways

AI Privatization

Meanwhile, Air India is pursuing its privatization process. India aviation Minister H.S. Puri has said that failure to find a buyer could mean the end of the airline. Deadline for bidding for Air India will end in December, unless the government extends it.

Regardless of Air India’s fate, south India will see direct connections to the US through UA and AA. Indian officials see a huge untapped market for this service.

Although scheduled international flights from India remain suspended due to COVID-19, these flights will operate under an air bubble between India and the US.

Photo: Roberto Leiro/Airways

Record-Setting Flights

At 8,709 miles, the Bengaluru-SFO nonstop will be the longest route operated by Air India or any U.S. Carrier. “This route, at this point in time, will be third in the ranking for longest routes operated by all carriers,” a United spokesperson said recently.

It will be AI’s longest flight to and from India, as well as the longest flight to or from India (16 hours).

Featured image: Luca Flores/Airways