Air India has become the first airline to fly the new Boeing-787 Dreamliner to Australia – with 256 seats. The flagship carrier will run direct daily flights between India and Australia from 29 August.
India’s national carrier, which is currently making losses in the highly competitive domestic sector, hopes to turn the business around by running the fuel-efficient Dreamliner on new routes to Europe, Australia and Africa.
Air India, which is resuming direct flights to Australia after 16 years, will fly between Delhi, Sydney and Melbourne. The flights will benefit not only Indians in Australia but also those in New Zealand. Also, Indian visitors to Australia often plan a combined Australia-New Zealand tour.
Air India will pose competition to Singapore Airlines, which currently provide the critical link between Australia and India via Singapore.
Australia’s Acting High Commissioner to India, Bernard Philip, expects Indian visitor numbers to Australia to nearly double by 2020. “So these direct flights will benefit many Indian business travellers, students, migrants, tourists and families,” he said.
According to the High Commission, 450,000 Indians live in Australia, and in 2012, India became the largest source of skilled migrants to Australia.
In the same year, India was the tenth largest source of visitors to Australia, with 159,000 people travelling.
Similarly, more than 180,000 Australians visit India each year.
Air India is also planning to start New Delhi-Rome-Milan flight from October and New Delhi-Moscow operations from next year on the new Dreamliner aircraft.
With the aim of giving the cheapest of all the flights to Australia, Air India is offering promotional air fares to Australia on the direct route in both directions, which are available for a limited period of time.