Air India is poised to launch a non-stop service between Melbourne and Mumbai, the first ever between the cities, as the airline moves to capitalise on the Victorian capital’s popularity among Indian travellers.
The airline is set to operate three flights per week beginning on 15 December, with potential to increase the frequency of the service as demand grows.
The new Mumbai service will use Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft, supplementing Air India’s existing daily flights between Melbourne and Delhi.
Last financial year Melbourne welcomed more Indian visitors than any other Australian city with 433,000 Indian residents flying in and out of Victoria’s international gateway in the 12 months to June.
Melbourne Airport’s chief of aviation Jim Parashos says the announcement highlights the benefits to travellers of open skies agreements.
“Australia and India have an open skies air services agreement which has provided Air India the certainty it needs to efficiently announce, put on sale and launch these new flights without the uncertainty associated with bilateral agreements,” Parashos says.
“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.”
Parashos says that with Melbourne home to Australia’s largest Indian population, the city is the ‘obvious gateway for travellers from the subcontinent wanting to explore Victoria and beyond’.
“Our data shows that as India’s financial capital, Mumbai is currently Melbourne’s largest international market without non-stop flights, so we expect this service to be very popular in both directions,” he says.
Air India’s flights from Melbourne to Mumbai are planned to depart at 8pm.
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