While quite a few international airlines use the North Pole route, Indian airlines have never flown that way, until now. According to a report in India Today, Air India's New Delhi to San Francisco flight could become the first Indian airline to fly over the North Pole. Air India might start using the route by August-end, the report stated.
The report further revealed that the decision was taken following Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), aviation regulator of India, issuing a circular asking if any Indian airlines would be interested in flying over the North Pole. Air India showed interest in flying over the newly proposed route.
While at the moment, the route that Air India takes from New Delhi to San Francisco, goes over Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, and Japan before crossing the Pacific Ocean to enter the United States of America, the new route would save 90 minutes making the travel time decrease from 17 hours to 15.5 hours.
The new route will include Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, the Arctic Ocean, Canada, before entering the US, revealed India Today.
Furthermore, the new route would bring down the distance travelled from 12,000 km to 8,000 km approximately.
Notably, this route is only being considered for the New Delhi to San Francisco flights as for any other destination, the travel time would increase.
According to a circular released by DGCA on August 6, "The operator applying for authority to fly in the Polar Areas must develop plans in preparation for all polar flights in the North and/or South Polar Areas, as appropriate," adding that the operator's plan for conducting operations within these areas must include, en route alternate airports for any emergency landing and in-flight diversions within the polar region among other things.