June 14, 2008

Jet Airways Launching Service From SFO to India

By Tim Simmers, San Mateo County Times, Calif.

Jun. 14--Jet Airways, India's largest domestic airline, is scheduled to launch daily service today from San Francisco International Airport to Mumbai, India.

"The spending power of the Indian consumer is pushing our expansion," said Manish Dureja, assistant vice president of marketing at Jet Airways.

The SFO-to-Mumbai service will go by way of Shanghai, China, where there'll be a two-hour stopover.

Jet Airways will become the first Indian airline to fly from SFO to India.

The carrier expects to attract both business and leisure travelers on the route to India's business center.

Expanding trade between the two countries in the high-tech and biotech sectors should fuel significant traffic on the route, Jet Airways officials said. In addition, demand is expected to be strong from the Bay Area's large Indian community.

"The launch will be almost 95 percent full," said Zainul Aljunied, vice president of the Americas for Jet Airways.

To commemorate the event, the airline plans to host a four-faith blessing for the Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Christian religions.

It represents the second flight from SFO to Shanghai. United Airlines also flies the route.

Some regulatory issues with China prompted a delay from the original launch date of May 5.

The 6:15 p.m. arrival at SFO will be greeted with a traditional water cannon salute. The departure from SFO was scheduled to take off at 8:45 p.m.

The special introductory,

round-trip fare, including fuel surcharges, is $1,480.

The new 20-hour direct service is expected to cut off at least five hours of travel time compared with current ways of flying to India.

Passengers will have one flight number and travel in the same airplane.

Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines currently handle much of the traffic between SFO and India.

"My gut feeling is that they'll do very well with this service," said Michael Roach, principal at Roach & Sbarra in San Francisco, an airline consultancy. "Air service between the West Coast and India sucks now."

Roach said a recent trip from SFO to India took him 30 hours, two stops and a change of planes.

He anticipates plenty of demand from business executives in Silicon Valley.

They buy the more expensive first-class and business-class tickets, he noted.

Jet Airways will fly Boeing 777 aircraft on the route.

The airline will depart SFO daily at 8:45 p.m. and arrive at Shanghai at 1:30 a.m.

After a two-hour stop in Shanghai, it will depart at 3:30 a.m. and arrive at Mumbai at 8:20 a.m.

The return flight departs Mumbai at 11:15 a.m. and lands in Shanghai at 7:45 p.m. After a two-hour stopover, it departs Shanghai at 9:45 p.m. and arrives at SFO at 6:15 p.m. the same day.

Founded in 1993, Jet Airways operates 370 daily flights to more than 50 destinations in India and internationally.

Business writer Tim Simmers can be reached at 650-348-4361 or by email at [email protected]


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