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United to scale back India flying, delay Bangalore launch as pandemic rages

2 minute read

A United Airlines passenger jet takes off with New York City as a backdrop, at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, U.S. December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

CHICAGO, May 7 (Reuters) - United Airlines (UAL.O) said on Friday it is temporarily pausing service between Chicago and New Delhi in June and delaying the planned launch of flights between San Francisco and Bangalore as a catastrophic explosion of COVID-19 cases hits demand.

India reported another record daily rise in coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing total new cases for the week to 1.57 million, as its vaccination rate falls dramatically due to a lack of supplies and transport problems.

Until the Chicago-Delhi route is halted on May 31, United said will use its larger Boeing 777-300ER jets on seven roundtrip flights to accelerate the repatriation of citizens between the two countries and the delivery of vital medical supplies. It was previously using the Boeing 787-9.

United, the only U.S. carrier flying to India, said it will continue its daily flights to Delhi from Newark and San Francisco and to Mumbai from Newark.

However, it will "continue to monitor customer demand to determine if any additional changes to its schedule are necessary," it said.

As of now it expects to resume the Chicago-Delhi flights, which it launched in December, in July and kick off its San Francisco-Bangalore service on August 1 versus previous plans for a May 27 launch.

Rival American Airlines (AAL.O) plans to launch flights from Seattle to Bangalore, known as the Silicon Valley of India, later this year.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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