Air deal opens routes to India

Australia is poised to expand its air links with India after striking an open-capacity air deal covering major airports in both countries. The liberalised air services arrangements were announced jointly by Transport Minister Michael McCormack and his Tourism counterpart Steven Ciobo in June, paving the way for new routes and services between Australia and what is now the world’s fastest growing major economy.

“India is currently our seventh most valuable international tourism market with 302,200 visitors contributing $1.43 billion to the Australian economy in 2017,” Ciobo said.

“This valuable market continues to grow and it is estimated that by 2026-27 Australia will welcome more than 640,000 Indians to our shores,” he said. “This new aviation agreement ensures we have capacity to facilitate this outstanding growth.”

The new air services arrangements enable Australian airlines to operate unlimited services between Australia and the six major metropolitan airports in India, and for Indian airlines to operate unlimited services between India and six airports in Australia.

“These air services arrangements provide a foundation for airlines to increase direct flights between Australia and India, in line with the growing scale and profile of the Indian market over the long term,” Ciobo said.

Qantas currently offers codeshare services to India with Jet Airways, linking its Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok flights with the Indian carrier’s services to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Air India and Jet Airways have not said how they might exploit the new air services agreement. A Qantas spokesperson said the current codeshare arrangements were working well, though “India is a market where the high grow rates are worth monitoring”.