Aviation Daily Jun 23 , 2010 , p. 11
Air India will fly daily direct services between Melbourne and Delhi, starting Nov. 1 with a Boeing 777, the first nonstop service to Melbourne from India.
Air India also is the first Indian carrier to fly to Australia.
The new service was announced after Air India’s Chairman and Managing Director Arvind Jadhav signed a deal with the state of Victoria Premier John Brumby.
In 2007, Qantas signed a code-share accord with Jet Airways to offer passengers daily departures from Delhi to Singapore, with onward connections to and from Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns and Darwin and from Mumbai to Singapore with connections to and from Perth and Sydney.
The bilateral agreement between India and Australia gives Indian carriers 6,500 seats per week to six destinations in Australia, including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. Air India earlier flew to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, but withdrew its services.
“Air India will be establishing its regional headquarters in Melbourne. This Air India deal will create up to 78 jobs and see up to 123,000 new tourist and business arrivals from India to Victoria each year,” Brumby said.
Business to Melbourne in the past few years has been waning because of several hate crimes committed against Indian students. However, Tourism Research Australia late last year showed a 17.4% increase in visitors from India to Victoria in the year to March 2010.
Brumby said Air India’s decision to choose Melbourne for its first direct international flights to Australia was recognition of Victoria as Australia’s premier destination for Indian tourists and businesses.
Victoria’s dominant share of the Indian student market (45% of all Indian students in Australia are in Victoria) and the strong growth in business travel (business travel rose 17% between India and Melbourne in 2007-2009) compares with a decline of 2.1% on the India–Sydney sector.
Tourism Victoria is expected to support Air India in its marketing.