Hyderabad is all set to get non-stop connectivity with the United States as Air India will launch its direct flight from the city to Chicago on January 15. The national carrier will operate the flight bi-weekly, GMR-led Hyderabad International Airport announced on Wednesday. The airline will operate Boeing 777-200 aircraft, with a seating capacity of 238 (8 First Class + 35 Business Class + 195 Economy Class) on the route. In addition to the Hyderabad-Chicago direct flight, Air India also plans to connect Bengaluru and San Francisco from next month.
Hyderabad-US-Hyderabad has been the largest unserved passenger origin and destination market between India and the US, with a potential of over 7,00,000 passengers annually. Hyderabad is a gateway to south and central India, and the largest transit hub, said the Hyderabad airport operator.
Hyderabad offers convenient proximity for passengers originating from nearby cities like Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Nagpur, Bhubaneswar, Rajahmundry, Bhopal, and Tirupati, pushing an additional demand of approximately 220,000 passengers annually.
"This new non-stop route was on our connectivity wish list for quite some time. And we are delighted that it is our very own national carrier that has commenced this service," said Pradeep Panicker, CEO, GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd.
He said that the launch of this route brings two destinations closer for all passengers who have been waiting eagerly for such a direct flight. He said that they were constantly working on linking more cities on domestic and international routes.
Hyderabad is a second home to US giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Google. Due to progressive measures taken by the Telangana government, investments especially from US companies in Hyderabad have increased manifold and continue to increase. The US accounts for about 70% of the total IT exports from Hyderabad.
The Telugu diaspora from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is one of the fastest growing communities in the US. As per some estimates, every fourth student travelling abroad for studies from India is from these Telugu states. India is the second largest source country for foreign students going to the US each year.
Also, Hyderabad is known as the pharma capital of India and as a vaccine manufacturing hub. The airport operator said that direct connectivity to the US would provide the much-needed impetus to its pharma industry for air cargo uplift.
The current annual air cargo tonnage in the Hyderabad-US market segment is pegged at 22,000 metric tonnes and growing at 8% annually. This flight could play an important role in providing the logistic support to transport COVID-19 vaccines between the two destinations.
This development assumes significance in view of a recent statement by Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri that Indian carriers get a mere 17% of the value of traffic between India and the US. He had termed this as a distorted business model.
"The value of traffic between India and the US is roughly 7 billion dollars annually. How much do Indian carriers get out of that traffic? A mere 17%. It is not as if American carriers are getting the remaining 83%. I am not going to say who is getting it. But I see no reason why Indian flagship carriers and private carriers should not be earning more money flying passengers," Puri had said last month while addressing 'Deccan Dialogue' organised by the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.