Spot on. I was just going to reply to jbs2886 with this same question. If an ULR route has to survive just on connections at both ends that is trouble since you are asking for most passengers to make 2 stops. Why would anyone pay a premium for that when there are cheaper and more efficient (time wise) 1 stops?
There is a chance of ATL BOM to work with more connections. But for that DL has to time the flight correctly . They can be assured that indians (the ones DL is aiming as customers) will be ready to pay a premium for a one stop to US city if they don't have to depart at 2am-5am. Even EK a380 from BOM leaves at late night hours only. So some different timing can do wonders. DL has multiple flights from ATL to other US cities so timing this BOM flight for connection at ATL end won't be difficult.
Now the issue is whether DL can get such a slot at BOM.
Well, you (& others) are still not answering the question posed by some (stl07 & me for example); why would passengers pay a premium to do xxx-ATL-BOM-yyy when they can do xxx-European/ME3 Hub-yyy ????
Here are the various passenger routing scenarios -
1) xxx-ATL/JFK-BOM/DEL [Might work; but i am skeptical for the following reasons]
a) No big advantage to the xxx-ATL/JFK-BOM/DEL customer now, who has a variety of 1 stop options to choose now.
b) For the xxx-ATL/JFK-BOM/DEL customer; the immigration+customs hassle on the return leg is a hassle which anyone would like to
avoid (when there is a connection to make) unless there is no option such as when connecting to a totally domestic airport like LIT.
2) ATL/JFK-BOM/DEL-yyy [Might work; but again i am skeptical for the following reasons]
a) On the outbound and inbound legs the immigration & customs hassles at BOM/DEL is something which passengers would want to completely avoid unless they
don't have a choice. Tickets will have to be much cheaper than the competition for passengers to take this routing.
b) Plenty of one stop choices to choose from; so what is the advantage DL is offering with it's non stop?
4) xxx-ATL/JFK-BOM/DEL-yyy. Now who in their right mind would take this routing? Unless of course, someone flying from LIT,COS,MEM where there is no international service. Would DL singnificantly count on such passengers and make make money on folks travelling on such a 2 stop routing? The answer is NO.
Now, so, this really leaves passengers with 2 possble routings that can really make DL sustain US India non stop & make money (and that is a big IF)
5 ) ATL-DEL/BOM. ATL is not the same economic powerhouse that JFK is (serving NYC); So, if i were to bet this would be my 2nd choice in the bet.
6) That leaves JFK-BOM/DEL. JFK is an economic powerhouse; financial capital of the US and the world. Makes most sense for DL to launch a non stop from here with a product that is superior to the competition (if it is worried about not being able to make money due to competition from AI & UA).
On the other end it is a close tie between BOM (Financial capital of India) & DEL (The political capital & [Economic powerhouse? in it's own right to India])
A JFK-BOM [1st choice] followed by [a close second choice] JFK-DEL catering to O&D traffic primarily + with connecting traffic as bonus has the most chance of success (IF it succceeds); otherwise we may see DL trying it for a year or two and pulling out till a far more efficient plane comes along.
Time will tell.