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Delta to return to India after open-skies settlements

Delta Air Lines will resume service to India with nonstop flights to Mumbai, saying that recent government agreements with two Gulf states have allowed it return to the market.

The Atlanta-based airline will begin nonstop flights between the USA and Mumbai in 2019, but does not specify the US gateway it will operate the flights from. It says it will announce details later this year.

Delta last served Mumbai in 2015 from Amsterdam, but dropped those flights when they did not perform. FlightGlobal schedules data showed that Delta had operated on the Amsterdam-Mumbai route for more than five years.

The airline had also previously operated to Mumbai from Atlanta, Paris Charles de Gaulle and New York John F Kennedy, schedules data show.

Delta had cited India as among markets it says it was forced to exit due to competition from Gulf carriers Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. Delta, along with American Airlines and United Airlines, had accused the Gulf carriers of benefiting from state subsidies.

For the year ending March 2018, the three Gulf carriers transported an average of over 3,200 passengers daily between India and the USA on itineraries that they sold, more than double from five years ago, FlightGlobal schedules data show. These include passengers with itineraries that connected within the USA to US airlines.

Earlier this month, the US and UAE governments announced an agreement to settle the subsidy allegations, with both sides noting that Emirates and Etihad currently have no plans to begin additional fifth freedom flights to the USA. The settlement mirrors a similar deal made between the US and Qatari governments earlier this year.

"The framework created by the agreement allows Delta to move forward with service to India, a market long impacted by government-subsidised Middle Eastern airlines," says Delta.

It also plans to expand its existing codeshare with partner Jet Airways, it adds.

United is the only US carrier currently serving India, with nonstop service to both Mumbai and New Delhi from Newark, FlightGlobal schedules data show. Air India operates from New Delhi to Chicago O'Hare, New York JFK, San Francisco and Washington Dulles. It also flies to Newark from Mumbai.

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