Air India flights set for further delay

Air India flights set for further delay
By admin

Air India’s much vaunted flights to Australia almost certainly won’t happen this year with March now thought the most optimistic launch date.

All parties have accepted that the carrier’s well publicised services to Sydney and Melbourne are extremely unlikely to take off this side of the new year.

While disappointing for the industry, few will be surprised at the further delay given the on-off history of the services.

The financially troubled airline announced back in 2010 that it would launch daily direct services between Delhi and Melbourne that year. The Victorian capital is still waiting.

It then emerged Air India was gearing up for direct Sydney and Melbourne services later this year using one of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Again, no concrete schedules have ever materialised.

Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy told the Australasian Hotel Industry conference in Sydney this week that he regarded the launch of flights this year as unlikely, given the limited selling period Air India would have if flights were to start this year.

Stressing later to Travel Today that it was only his personal view, McEvoy predicted that a probable triangular service between Delhi, Sydney and Melbourne may launch in the first quarter, possibly March.

But airport officials remain sceptical, with McEvoy telling delegates they will believe flights will arrive “when they see planes land on the tarmac”.

A spokeswoman for Melbourne Airport said it would welcome flights but said there was no agreed timeframe.

“We look forward to the day it does happen,” she said.

Sydney Airport said discussions are continuing with Air India over the launch of services.

McEvoy said direct flights would give the market a “shot in the arm” but reiterated it would not be the “panacea”.

Several carriers already operate one-stop services from India through Asia which serves the markets well, he said.

But McEvoy added he was keen to see a direct codeshare service between Jet Airways and Qantas. The two carriers already codeshare through Singapore.

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