Air India set to make history in Melbourne

India has been top-of-mind for Australia in recent years for many economic reasons. Notably for our travel and tourism sectors, India has been looked upon as an important alternative Asian market to China if relations continue to be turbulent between Canberra and Beijing. So it's perhaps not a great surprise that Air India has decided to link Melbourne and Mumbai directly for the first time in 40 years, but either way it sure is welcome news. Adam Bishop reports.

History was announced this week with Air India confirming it will start non-stop flights from Mumbai to Melbourne from December 2023, operating three times a week and adding more than 40,000 seats per year into Victoria.

When the Indian carrier takes off, it will represent the first time in more than 40 years that an airline has provided a non-stop service between the major Indian city and Australia.

It is estimated the Melbourne-Mumbai flights will generate $55 million for the Victorian economy each year and create an estimated 264 jobs in the aviation and tourism sectors.

“This new route will boost tourism, create local jobs and open more pathways for Victorian businesses to reach one of the world’s fastest growing economies,” Victoria’s Minister for Jobs and Industry Natalie Hutchins enthused.

Air India already operates a service from New Delhi to Melbourne seven times a week, with the new Dreamliner services to Mumbai adding to an increasingly important economic partnership for Australia – especially as India becomes the world’s third largest economy by 2030.

Victoria is also a major tourism destination for India already, giving added credence to the Air India decision, with 2022 delivering 149,000 people from India, with thousands of those comprised of international students enrolled in Victorian institutions.

The latest international addition to Melbourne Airport adds to an impressive stable of recent wins for the Victorian capital, with Air India joining a growing list of international airlines increasing flights to Melbourne, including expansions by LATAM Airways, Cathay Pacific, Scoot, China Southern and Sichuan Airlines.

Melbourne Airport Chief of Aviation Jim Parashos also said the new service highlighted the benefits of open skies agreements.

“Australia and India have an open skies air services agreement which has provided Air India the certainty they need to efficiently announce, put on sale and launch these new flights without the uncertainty associated with bilateral agreements,” he said.

“Open Skies and liberal bilateral agreements provide airlines with the certainty they need to add flights and respond to trends as demand for passenger and cargo increases.

“In recent months, Melbourne Airport has seen record numbers of Indian visitors travelling through the terminals, and this new service will make it even easier for families to reconnect or for tourists and students to explore our great state.

“Melbourne is home to Australia’s largest Indian population and shares significant cultural ties, which makes it the obvious gateway for travellers from the subcontinent wanting to explore Victoria and beyond,” he concluded.




Subscribe To travelBulletin