Air India, the largest international airline from India, has announced that it is expanding its Australian network with new Mumbai-Melbourne flights.
Mumbai gets its first nonstop to Australia!
Starting 15th December 2023, Air India will operate a three-weekly nonstop service between Mumbai and Melbourne with the following schedule:
- Departure time: 00:50
- Arrival time: 18:10
- Flight time: 11 hours and 50 minutes
- Flight number: AI310
- Frequency: Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays
- Departure time: 20:00
- Arrival time: 02:35 (the next day)
- Flight time: 12 hours and 05 minutes
- Flight number: AI311
- Frequency: Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays
Air India will deploy Boeing B787-8 Dreamliners on this route. This service will complement Air India’s existing daily service between Delhi and Melbourne. Melbourne Airport Authorities say that as demand grows, Air India may increase the frequency of flights.
Air India says that passengers will be able to connect to/from London Heathrow onto/from Melbourne, opening a new opportunity for Air India to connect the West and East.
Largest unserved market of Melbourne
Melbourne Airport says that Mumbai is the largest unserved market from Mumbai. Last financial year, Melbourne welcomed more Indian visitors than any other Australian city with 4,33,000 Indian residents flying in and out of Victoria’s international gateway in the 12 months to June.
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. 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.said Jim Parashos, Chief of Aviation, Melbourne Airport.
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Jim expects this service to be very successful, given Mumbai is the largest market for Melbourne without nonstop flights.
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 added.
Melbourne has the largest Indian community in Australia and the launch of this new service by Air India comes at an exciting time when the Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) traffic is very high, helping support the route in its earlier days.
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 said.
Air India is launching this new service in partnership with the Australian government, in a bid to increase travel and trade between the two countries.
Melbourne is poised to become the largest Australian market for international travellers, overtaking Sydney in the coming years. Is this the reason why Air India has chosen Melbourne over Sydney to expand its Australian operations? It all remains to be seen. Airports generally offer some incentives to airlines to attract them to start services. In this case, although nothing like that has been announced as such, it can be a possibility.
On the other hand, Western Australia is also pushing Indian airlines to start flights to Perth, with the government having stated multiple times the need of a nonstop service between Perth and India. Could Air India finally add Perth to its network? It all remains to be seen. However, if the new Mumbai-Melbourne route proves to be a hit, it may be given a priority by increasing frequency, as consolidating operations and expanding operations in a city is beneficial for airlines in most of the cases.
Competing with hub carriers
Air India’s new nonstop service between Mumbai and Melbourne will compete directly with SouthEast Asian hub carriers. Currently, passengers travelling between the financial capital of India and the Victorian capital travel through Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Hong Kong with Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways or Cathay Pacific respectively.
However, with just a 3-weekly service to begin with, Air India will take some time to grab a significant market share. Until and unless this service increases to daily, hub carriers mentioned above will continue to have a significant market share. Although this is the case, Air India’s entry in an untested market is hopefully just a start and will hopefully encourage other carriers to start services between Mumbai and Australia.
Featured image by Wikimedia Commons
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