The Chicago-based airline said they may make further adjustments to their flight schedule for India in the coming days.
United Airlines announced on Monday that in response to the evolving situation in Ukraine, its San Francisco (SFO) to New Delhi (DEL) and Newark (EWR) to Mumbai (BOM) flights are now indefinitely suspended. The daily routes directly linking San Francisco with Delhi and Newark, New Jersey with Mumbai have been halted as a “temporary” move, while its other two daily flights linking Delhi with both Newark and Chicago will continue to operate.
“United has decided to temporarily suspend transiting Russian airspace to operate our flights to and from BOM (Mumbai) and DEL (Delhi) India. While some routes are possible to fly, we are unable to operate our full India operation. Our SFO-DEL and EWR-BOM routes will be cancelled for the next few days as we evaluate any available options for those unique routes,” the statement said.
“We do, however, have available routes outside Russia, which allow us to continually operate the ORD-DEL and EWR-DEL routes,” it added. “We may have additional adjustments to our flight schedule for India in the days ahead as the situation develops, but we remain in close communication with our crews in India.”
The Chicago-based airline was the last major US passenger carrier to withdraw from the airspace following the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, having routed other flights around Russia since the invasion began. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have avoided Russian airspace since February 23, having rearranged routes between US and Northeast Asia.
According to a Bloomberg News report, United was paying Russia under USD4,000 to use its airspace for each India flight. The US administration joined the European Union and Canada last week in banning Russian airlines from U.S. airspace.
Without access to Russian airspace some international flights to Asia were forced to take longer routes and this was proving to be unviable. Prior to Moscow’s invasion, about 1,000 U.S. flights a week, which included multiple cargo flights, used Russian airspace, according to officials.
This leaves only Air India, which still overflies Russia, as the only carrier currently operating nonstop between India and the US. It flies from Delhi to Chicago, San Francisco, Newark, New York, and Washington. It also connects Mumbai to Newark, Bangalore to San Francisco and Hyderabad to Chicago.