Indianapolis International Airport officials say they are encouraged by strong passenger bookings during the first year of non-stop Delta Air Lines Inc. flights to Paris – and they are curious to see how the success of the high-profile flight route could lead to it easier to land new routes.
"The flight exceeded our expectations," said Maggie Bishop, business development analyst for the development of airport services. "We are pleased with the first year's performance."
The Atlanta-based Delta flew between Indianapolis International Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on May 24, 2018, giving Indiana its first nonstop transatlantic flight. From then until the end of November ̵
"These are not bad numbers for a start-up phase. Said Madhu Unnikrishnan, publisher of the aviation industry publication "Skift Airline Weekly".
And, as Bishop said, Delta has announced it will increase the frequency of the Paris route in September Frequency varies according to the season, but last year Delta offered the route five days a week in September, and this year, Bishops said, it would rise to six days.
That was definitely encouraging for Indianapolis "Every time an airline adds more services, it means they think the route is going well."
Another sign of the route's strong performance: Delta needed less than one Year to achieve full economic incentives of $ 3.5 million in the first year After the contract with the Indiana Economic Development Corp.
After the two-year contract, Delta for each Passenger boarding the flight ($ 110 per round trip), $ 55 and earning $ 35 per passenger ($ 70 per round trip) in the second year. The upper limit for payments is $ 3.5 million in the first year and $ 2 million in the second year.
The first year of the contract began on May 25, 2018 and will run until the end of this month. The second year runs from 1 June to 31 May 2020.
According to IEDC spokeswoman Abby Gras, Delta reached the incentive limit by the end of the first quarter of this year.
In an e-mail she said that state officials are "really encouraged by the performance of this route – it is clear that a necessity and a desire for an improved connection between Indiana and global markets such as Europe. "  "The route has proven itself as well as other established markets with similar service, which is a promising sign, and we look forward to continuing the momentum in the second year," said Gras.
The early success of the Paris route is particularly encouraging, said Bishop, because of its high profile.
Indianapolis is one of 11 US cities Delta offers non-stop connections to Paris. And since the route started here, she has attracted much attention from other airlines.
"Every airline we have talked to since our launch in Paris is interested in the success of this flight," said Bishop. "It certainly increased the conversation and aroused interest."
Airport officials always thought Indianapolis had enough passengers to support such a service, and now there are the numbers that prove it.
"After the first year under review, we are confident that Indianapolis will be able to handle a transatlantic long-haul flight."
The route data also shows that some passengers use the Paris flight as a starting point for other destinations, Bishop said Not only is it a nice flight to Paris, it's access to the rest of the world. "
Delta operates the flight from Indianapolis to Paris in collaboration with Air France, and Charles de Gaulle is Air France's largest hub.  For Indianapolis passengers using the Paris flight as a connection, the Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, as well as the Italian cities of Florence and Rome are top destinations, Bishop said.  The data provide ammunition for the airport and its business development Partners, including the IEDC and the Indy Chamber, could land more international flights, Bishop said.
The Tech and Pharm India is as big in India as it is in Indianapolis. According to Unnikrishnan of Skift Airline Weekly, providing easier access to India is important.
"It has always been difficult to get from North America to India, as there are not many direct flights." Many options include two stopovers.
Delta declined to answer questions about the performance of the route or for comparison with international routes that the airline has launched in other medium-sized markets.
This was announced by an airline representative in an e-mail that many customers had told Delta is the route "of importance to them".
"We look forward to bringing more customers to more locations in our second year of the Indianapolis-Paris service – as well as resuming many of the same customers," said Morgan Durrant.
International flights from medium-sized US markets are not always successful, Unnikrishnan said. In Cleveland, for example, Icelandair launched a year-round flight between this city and the Icelandic capital Reykjavik last May. Icelandair announced this fall that the route will be converted into a seasonal air service. In March, the airline canceled her.
Indianapolis is in a different position, Unnikrishnan said.
The economy is stronger than many of its competitors, and the presence of several multinational companies is helping to boost demand for international flights. Indianapolis was also a mini-hub for Northwest Airlines, which has since been taken over by Delta. This gives Indianapolis a core of loyal Delta customers, he said.
"I think Indianapolis has a lot of things that many other medium-sized cities do not have."