AIR India will commence daily flights to Sydney and Melbourne from August 29, connecting New Delhi with Australia after a 16-year hiatus.
Using the 787 Dreamliner with 256 seats in economy class and 18 seats in business, India’s national carrier will fly four times weekly on the New Delhi-Sydney-Melbourne route and three-times weekly on New Delhi-Melbourne-Sydney.
Sales on these sectors have started since July 5.
Marian Stanley, general manager of South Melbourne Travel, said: “A daily direct flight will help increase both inbound and outbound traffic. There is growing interest in India as a leisure and incentive destination, with average stay exceeding a week.
“We expect Indian outbound to Sydney and Melbourne to grow substantially as now the air fares available to them will be rationalised, compared with flights via Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.”
Sushil Wadhwa, chairman, Mumbai-based Platinum World, said: “Our corporate clients in insurance and banking have always been keen on Australia as a destination for incentive groups. With direct flights to both cities in demand, we should be able to book many more such groups.”
Rakesh Ramnani, director-leisure, Kolkata-based Vensimal World Travel, said: “With the Rupee hitting an all-time low, Air India will need to maintain a reasonable price line to fit the (shrinking) budget of Indian outbound travellers.”
Until now, Singapore Airlines had monopolised the India-Australia route with their multiple flights from several Indian cities, via Singapore.