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United Makes a Play for India with Vistara Codeshare

United Makes a Play for India with Vistara Codeshare
Joe Cortez

United Airlines is expanding its footprint in India and Southern Asia with its latest codeshare partner. The Chicago-based airline announced a new codeshare agreement with Indian carrier Vistara, adding 26 destinations to their network starting Feb. 28.

With Air India on uncertain terms, United Airlines is making a move to give the carrier a solid footprint in Southern Asia. In a press release, the Star Alliance airline announced a codeshare agreement with India’s Vistara, with flights starting on Feb. 28, 2020.

“Building a seamless itinerary…beyond New Delhi and Dubai”

Under the agreement, United customers will be able to book any of Vistara’s 68 flights to 26 Indian cities. Areas served include Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jodhpur, and Varanasi. A previous pact between the two airlines allowed flyers to earn and use United MileagePlus miles when flying aboard Vistara.

“We are excited to offer our shared customers the option of building a seamless itinerary when planning travel to cities beyond New Delhi and Mumbai,” John Gebo, United’s senior vice president of alliances, said in the press release. “Our relationship with Vistara opens up even more options for customers to travel between our East and West Coast hubs and multiple destinations throughout India.”

Vistara rises as Air India stands on questionable ground

In the press release, United praised their new codeshare partner as “India’s highest-rated airline on Skytrax and TripAdvisor, winner of several ‘Best Airline’ awards, and the only 5-star rated airline in India.” Vistara was listed as a five-star airline by APEX in the “Major Airline” category, putting them in league with Alaska Airlines, Avianca, Hawaiian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, and Royal Brunei Airlines. They also noted Vistara’s growth plans, including adding 50 aircraft to their fleet over the next three years – including the Airbus A321neo and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

However, the Chicago-based carrier didn’t mention Star Alliance partner Air India as part of their South Asia plans. The state-owned carrier is currently accepting liquidation bids for the name and aircraft only, excluding art and other assets critical to an airline operation. Although Air India remains a partner airline through the alliance, a successful sale could throw membership into question.

More airlines offering service into India

United’s announcement comes just days after Alaska Airlines and American Airlines made a big move in the aviation world. While Alaska announced its intention to join Oneworld, American announced new service from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) to Bengaluru Airport (BLR). Both trail behind Delta Air Lines, which announced renewed service to Mumbai in Dec. 2019 while claiming a victory in the “Open Skies” conflict over alleged government subsidies granted to three Middle East carriers.

View Comments (2)

2 Comments

  1. RUAMKZ

    February 20, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    It makes sense to partnership with Vistara, with AI on shaky ground…..but also with Kingfisher and Jet Airways out of the picture, too.

    But there are also some things that UA could be doing, in light of AA going to India, as well as Alaska getting into OneWorld. Seattle is not being taken seriously. In fact, the combined UA/CO route structure at SEA was decimated when Smisek took over, and never came back. ANC/PDX/CLE/NRT/HNL are gone, and smaller planes on the other routes.

    It makes sense, at this time, for UA to reinstate SEA-NRT. UA is at a disadvantage against AA and DL, with everything being forced into SFO. The Olympics are coming up in Tokyo, UA is the official carrier, but yet no additional flights to Japan. SEA could use something going to the far east. SEA-NRT would be useful for people connecting to Manila, Guam and a few other places…..including Bangkok, which has no flights to/from the USA.

    Yes, ANA is there, but extended legroom economy doesn’t exist on most of their planes, and it’s next to impossible to score business class upgrades on SEA-NRT using UA miles.

    What UA could do, especially with planes on the China routes idle, due to the virus, is to add more India flights themselves. At the very least, on a trial basis. Perhaps some city other than the basic Mumbai and Delhi……..Perhaps Hyderabad, Goa, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad…….

    As a side note, the code-sharing with Vistara also compounds the resentment among the flyers of “ugly stepchildren” of the alliance. The codeshares between UA and Thai, Lot and Ethiopian are minimal, at best. And at Aegean, they are non-existent.

  2. hyho61

    February 21, 2020 at 6:56 am

    It is very simple for UA’s non cooperation with AI. AI is a direct competitor to UA on EWR-India and SFO-India. UA denies AI code share at ORD and IAD. Obviously UA is not thrilled to throw any more business to AI. AI is here to stay for a while, if there is a change in ownership, they can always re-negotiate.

    Vistara is still a small airline with insufficient frequencies at BOM and DEL to key airports, often there is a long wait for the connections. Doubt if this will benefit connecting passengers much.

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