As the Australian borders re-open for the world after almost two years, the Indian community has appealed to the industry and the two countries’ leaders to start direct flights from Mumbai to Sydney.
A petition has been launched on change.org, appealing to the aviation industry and the leaders of Australia and India to start direct flights between Sydney and Mumbai.
“Currently, there is no direct flight from the metro city of Mumbai to Sydney. In fact, there are no direct flights from the western and southwestern regions of India, i.e. Ahmedabad or Bengaluru, to Sydney. All current flights have at least one stop and take about 20 to 30 hours each way which proves to be costly and time-consuming,” reads the petition started by Ankit Agarwal.
Australia receives a very high number of tourists and other visitors from India. Record 372,000 Indian tourists visited Australia between July 2018 and June 2019, and the number of visitors has been multiplying since 2002.
Earlier, Qantas flew Brisbane-Singapore-Mumbai and Sydney-Darwin-Mumbai in the late 2000s. However, the services were cancelled in 2012.
Last December, Qantas restarted flights to Delhi from Sydney and Melbourne.
Mr Agarwal said, “On my recent trip from Sydney to Mumbai, I’ve personally had two layovers which left me tired and my family anxious about my well-being. In addition to my tickets, I had to spend on hotel/lounge accommodation and meals during my 7+hour layover at Singapore and Colombo, Sri Lanka.
“I was deeply moved when I saw fellow passengers with crying babies, women, and helpless senior citizens navigating through layovers without many options. While in Singapore, last-minute cancellations to fellow passengers only added to their travel time and anxiety for their onward journeys. The difficulties in travelling due to the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the long travel times between the two major cities.”
“There is a direct route from New Delhi to Sydney operated by Qantas and Air India. This attracts travellers locally and from surrounding areas like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, etc. Similarly, the Mumbai-Sydney direct route will prove highly efficient and profitable for both travellers and the aviation industry. If not, a stopover in Singapore/ Hong Kong or any other country should be considered,” reads the petition.
“It will serve the very high demand of the metropolitan city of Mumbai/ Maharashtra and the surrounding states of Goa, Gujarat, and Karnataka. Many senior citizens, students, medical patients, and professionals will bypass long layovers, mid-journey flight changes, travel anxieties, and layover expenses. Thereby encouraging frequent travel via the Mumbai-Sydney route,” it added.
However, experts say the problem is that Mumbai airport is saturated and can hardly accommodate more flights.
“Let’s hope that Navi Mumbai airport comes up soon and Jet Airways becomes strong enough to compete and fly Mumbai-Australia from there. That is the only airline I think who might start such flights. But, till then, let’s keep our fingers crossed,” said Binayak Chakrabarti, an aviation expert from Detroit, US.