As Australia’s borders reopen to the world after almost two years, the Indian community has appealed to industry and leaders in both countries to launch direct flights from Mumbai to Sydney.
A petition has been launched on change.org calling on the aviation industry and leaders in Australia and India to launch direct flights between Sydney and Mumbai.
“Currently, there is no direct flight between Mumbai metropolitan city and Sydney. In fact, there are no direct flights from the western and southwestern regions of India, i.e. Ahmedabad or Bangalore, to Sydney All current flights have at least one stopover and take around 20-30 hours each way which is expensive and time consuming,” reads the petition launched by Ankit Agarwal.
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Australia receives a very high number of tourists and other visitors from India. A record 372,000 Indian tourists visited Australia between July 2018 and June 2019, and the number of visitors has been growing since 2002.
Earlier, Qantas flew Brisbane-Singapore-Mumbai and Sydney-Darwin-Mumbai in the late 2000s. However, the services were canceled 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 personally had two layovers which left me feeling tired and my family worried about my well-being. In addition to my tickets, I had to spend on hotel/lounge accommodation and meals during my 7+ hour layover in Singapore and Colombo, Sri Lanka.
“I was deeply moved when I saw other passengers with crying babies, women and helpless elderly people passing through layovers without many options. In Singapore, last-minute cancellations by other passengers only added to their travel time and anxiety for their onward journey. Travel difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated long travel times between the two major cities.
“There is a direct line from New Delhi to Sydney operated by Qantas and Air India. This attracts travelers from local and surrounding regions like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana etc. Likewise, the direct Mumbai-Sydney route will prove highly efficient and cost-effective for travelers and the aviation industry. Otherwise, a stopover in Singapore/Hong Kong or any other country should be considered,” the petition read.
“It will meet very high demand from the metropolitan city of Mumbai/Maharashtra and the surrounding states of Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka. Many seniors, students, patients and professionals will avoid long layovers, mid-flight changes, travel anxieties and layover expenses. Thus encouraging frequent travel via the Mumbai-Sydney route,” he added.
However, experts say the problem is that Mumbai airport is overcrowded and can hardly accommodate more flights.
“Hopefully Navi Mumbai Airport will come soon and Jet Airways will become strong enough to compete and fly Mumbai-Australia from there. I think it is the only airline that could launch such flights. But, until then, let’s keep our fingers crossed,” said Binayak Chakrabarti, an aviation expert from Detroit, US.