On December 6th, a scheduled Qantas commercial flight landed in India for the first time in nearly a decade. The Airbus A330-200 connected Sydney with New Delhi and touched down at Indira Gandhi International Airport at 4 pm. The thrice-weekly flight has met with great response and is expected to serve the substantial Indian population living in Australia.
First in almost 10 years
The last time Qantas flew commercially to India was with its Brisbane-Mumbai service, which ended in 2012. Now, almost a decade later, the carrier has started flights between the two countries from December 6th with the Sydney-Delhi service.
QF67 landed in Delhi at 4 pm after a 15-hour journey from Sydney. The flight departed Sydney at 6:47 am for a 90-minute hop to Adelaide, where after a one-hour planned stop and another hour of delay, it took off at 9:47 am local time for its 11+ hour journey to New Delhi.
QF67 will be a thrice-weekly service departing every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, with Qantas planning to increase the frequency from January next year.
While Qantas has operated more than 60 repatriation flights from India in the last year, this is the first time in a long while it is offering regular commercial service connecting Australia with India. More than 700,000 Indian immigrants live in Australia, and QF67 is already proving to be quite popular.
The airline will also start its Melbourne-Delhi flight before Christmas from December 22nd. According to Qantas, both flights to Delhi have been the fastest-selling routes on its international network after Australia eased border restrictions in November.
Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David commented,
“There was an incredible response when we announced both our new routes to Delhi. Forward bookings for the next few months are well ahead of our initial forecasts so while it’s early days, it’s an exciting start. The level of pent-up demand on this route can be seen by the fact that almost all customers traveled as planned despite the temporary three-day additional isolation requirement.”
There’s a significant demand for direct connections between Australia and India. In 2019, 182,374 passengers flew nonstop in either direction between the two countries on 834 Air India flights. Judging by the bookings on the flights to Delhi, it seems Qantas has introduced the flights at the right time.
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New routes to India
Many airlines are eying India as a destination by adding new flights or reintroducing previously canceled services. American Airlines inaugurated its nonstop service between New York and New Delhi in November, with the first flight seeing an impressive 92% load factor. The carrier is also planning to introduce its Seattle-Bengaluru service from March next year.
United Airlines, which already connects New Delhi with Newark and San Francisco, plans to launch a San Francisco-Bengaluru flight in May 2022. Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is also likely to join the list of carriers serving the busy and lucrative India-UAE sector early next year.
Judging by the forward booking on Qantas’ flights to Delhi and the impressive load factors on American’s JFK-DEL flights, it seems passengers are likely to have more options of flying in and out of the country in the coming future.