Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy welcomed the decision by Air India to launch direct non stop flights to Sydney and Melbourne – marking a return to the Australian market after 16 years.
“Key to unlocking India’s long term tourism potential is improved air access and capacity. Securing direct flights to Australia is critical to securing a share of the 50 million Indians expected to travel overseas by 2020,” he said.
“Preliminary analysis suggests we’ll need around 345,000 additional seats to meet the expected demand for Australia from India out to 2020. On top of the capacity that already exists, these new, direct services soon to be launched by Air India represent a huge boost in realising the full potential of this important market.
“As with most of our recent aviation success stories, this positive outcome owes much to a team Australia approach. Sydney and Melbourne Airports, Destination New South Wales and Tourism Victoria all deserve great credit for getting this deal done and we look forward to combining our marketing resources to ensure the new services are now aggressively promoted within India,” Mr McEvoy said.
McEvoy said that, under its India 2020 tourism plan, Tourism Australia had already doubled its marketing spend in India this year, and had made creating a sustainable, competitive aviation market between Australia and India one of its key priorities.
Close to 160,000 Indians visited Australia in 2012, spending nearly A$800m. By 2020, Tourism Australia believes the market has the potential to rise in annual value to up to A$2.3 billion and deliver 300,000 annual visitors.
The new ‘triangular’ service, operated by a Dreamliner Boeing 787, will operate between Delhi and the Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne.
The daily service will operate four times a week direct to Sydney, then on to Melbourne; and three times a week direct to Melbourne and on to Sydney.
Air India last operated flights to Australia in 1997.
An updated summary of Tourism Australia’s India 2020 Strategic Plan is available at www.tourism.australia.com/india