Sydney and Delhi Airports have agreed to work together in an effort to convince airlines to launch direct flights between Australia and India, with each airport saying the other represents its largest potential market not already served by direct air travel.
“Sydney and Delhi are the largest market for Australia-India air traffic in their respective countries and both cities are the gateway to their respective countries,” Sydney Airport CEO Kerrie Mather said in a statement announcing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two airports. “Working with Delhi Airport makes sense in terms of achieving our common objectives of growing this market.”
In the short term, however, convincing airlines to take on the route may not be easy. Qantas has tried direct flights to India before, most recently with services from Sydney to Mumbai between 2004 and 2009. Those flights were cancelled in favour of flights via Singapore, but the Singapore-Mumbai flights were themselves cancelled earlier this year as part of larger cut-backs in Qantas’s international network.
Indian airlines, meanwhile, are struggling badly to stay afloat amid spiralling fuel costs and heavy debt burdens. Air India is reportedly losing nearly $2 million a day while both Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways have reported deep losses in recent quarters. Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia X also recently ended its services to India.
Still, analysts say India’s growing middle class and burgeoning demand for air travel make the country a potentially lucrative market.