AIR India is planning direct flights to Sydney from November, having taken delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner last Saturday.
The first of 27 B787s, the new aircraft arrived at New Delhi from Seattle.
The B787 is expected to operate on major domestic routes like Delhi-Mumbai. Thereafter, Air India intends to commence daily flights to New York, Melbourne and Osaka from Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi. It is also looking at converting their existing flights to Chicago and New York into non-stop direct flights.
Chairman of Air India, Rohit Nandan, said: “The 787 will allow us to open new routes.”
Air India sources stated that the Australia route is top priority as it is a very lucrative one. An estimated 150,000 Indians will travel to Australia in 2012, and the volume is expected to rise to 500,000 in the next decade or so.
The Mumbai-Sydney flight route will kick off in November. The new route is part of the airline’s turnaround plan as it was recently given a new lease of life with substantial funding by the Indian government.
The airline expects to take delivery of two more 259-seater 787s by early October and the remaining 24 by 2016, which will all be used on longhaul routes.
Anil Punjabi, chairman-east, Travel Agents Federation of India and managing director of AR-ES Travels said: “Air India needs to keep costs at the minimum and leverage the advantages of the 787 to the maximum in order to start making profits. It has the experience to do well on longhaul routes.”
*Our writer was informed by an Air India source that Melbourne is the only Australian destination that Air India flies to but this was incorrect. Air India does not fly to Australia currently. We have removed the error from our original article.