Washington State recently sent government officials to the Wings India 2024 convention to discuss business opportunities. Such a high-profile visit raises the question of possible nonstop flights between Seattle and India.
Travel Demand Between Seattle and India
While the exact figures are not known, Seattle is known to have a sizable Indian-American population with high concentrations in the nearby cities of Redmond and Bellevue. There is a significant demand for travel to India in the Seattle metropolitan area. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) has seen various carriers known for their large presence in the Indian market boost or add services in recent years.
Most recently, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines entered the Seattle market in 2021 and 2022, respectively. Emirates inaugurated its Seattle service in 2012. Lufthansa, a European airline with a large presence in India, is increasing services to Seattle with a newly added route to Munich that will complement its existing route to Frankfurt. British Airways also flies multiple times a week from London, including two flights on certain days.
Airlines have acknowledged the demand for travel between Seattle and India by proposing routes that never became a reality. American Airlines planned to launch a service from Seattle to Bengaluru (BLR) in October 2020, but that never occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. American's route to Bengaluru was postponed and fully axed due to increased headaches with Russian airspace closures. American Airlines will likely never analyze the future viability of this route since the carrier gave up on any international long-haul expansion in Seattle.
Delta Air Lines is the only hub airline in SeaTac that could launch a new route to India. However, Delta does not currently fly to India and has not expressed public interest in serving Indian cities from its Seattle hub.
Is it Possible?
The possibility of Seattle scoring a nonstop flight to India is higher than ever. First, Washington State officials recently attended the Wings India convention. Wings India is the largest civil aviation-related convention in Asia. As such, officials from Washington were able to network with local firms to discuss future business collaborations and opportunities.
India is a massive hub for the aerospace industry. Boeing's India division employs around 11,000 individuals across a variety of sectors. The company even has a new Engineering and Technology Center recently opened in Bengaluru, India's major technology hub.
Plans were discussed for Indian aerospace companies to visit Seattle sometime soon, further showing the increasing cooperation between Boeing and Indian aerospace giants. India is expected to open a new consulate in Seattle later this year, highlighting the Indian community's large presence in America's northernmost major city.
The most likely candidate to launch this new service is Air India, which has recently leaked plans to serve other U.S. markets like Los Angeles and Dallas. Although the cities Air India will serve from Seattle is currently unknown, Bengaluru is a strong candidate since both cities have large tech industries. Air India will fill the void that American Airlines was never able to fill.
Air India's long-haul network from Bengaluru is small. In the U.S., the carrier only flies to San Francisco a few times weekly. As the Indian flag carrier continues to grow following privatization, aviation enthusiasts in India and beyond are eager to witness the expansion of the airline's network. U.S. cities like Atlanta, Houston, Boston, and Seattle are currently under discussion as high-demand cities for possible Air India service.
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