Air India is set to make its long-awaited return to Australia in August with the launch of services from New Delhi to Sydney and Melbourne.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has welcomed the launch of flights from August 29, saying it will generate substantial visitor growth to Sydney and NSW directly from New Delhi, India’s second largest city.
He said the new route was secured by Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, Sydney Airport and Tourism Australia, with a marketing agreement which will see the Air India service to Sydney promoted in India.
“India is a very important market for NSW and I am very pleased to welcome and support the new Air India service to Sydney,” O’Farrell said.
“Visitors from India are choosing Sydney and NSW as their holiday destination for many reasons – whether it’s visiting our spectacular natural attractions, tasting our delicious local produce, or seeing world class sporting and cultural events and festivals.
“This new Air India service will make getting to Sydney and NSW even easier, meaning we can welcome even more visitors from India.
“Increasing trade between NSW and India is a key priority of the NSW Government – which is why each year I lead a trade and investment mission to the country.”
The new route will see Air India fly a daily triangulated service from Delhi to Australia via Sydney (and Melbourne alternately).
Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy welcomed the decision by Air India to launch direct non-stop flights that mark 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,” McEvoy said.
He 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 AUD$800m. By 2020, Tourism Australia believes the market has the potential to rise in annual value to up to AUD$2.3 billion and deliver 300,000 annual visitors.
NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events George Souris said boosting international tourism numbers is great news for the local economy.
“Since 2008, visitor numbers from India to NSW have increased by over a third – with holiday makers, international students and those visiting friends and families making Sydney and NSW their destination,” he said.
“This new service to Sydney will provide a new way for visitors to plan and book their next visit to Sydney.”
Sydney’s convention bureau, Business Events Sydney (BESydney), said the announcement of daily flights from Delhi to Sydney was a huge coup for the harbour city.
“Accessibility is a lynch pin in our success as a business events destination,” said Lyn Lewis Smith, CEO of BESydney.
“We applaud Destination NSW, Sydney Airport and Tourism Australia for their efforts to secure this new route and for acknowledging the importance of accessibility for the valuable Indian market.
“BESydney and the wider local business events industry have eagerly awaited this announcement. We’ve long identified the potential of the Indian business event market, but have struggled to support our clients with seamless travel options.
“I have no doubt that today’s news will aid our efforts to welcome more Indian corporate incentive events to our inspirational and aspirational city.
“The news of improved accessibility for Indian delegates is also wonderful news for our association clients. Sydney’s ability to attract delegates from the Asia-Pacific region continues to be an important and strategic benefit for international associations hosting their events in our city.
“We look forward to seeing more Indian delegates join the conversation and collaborate at international association events in our harbour city!”
Destination NSW appointed its first Indian in-market representative in June 2012. Paramjit Bawa is based in Mumbai and represents both Destination NSW and BESydney.
Air India last operated flights to Australia in 1997.