Australia and India have formalised an open sky agreement allowing airlines on either side to offer unlimited number of seats to six Indian metros and as many Australian
The previous agreement between the two countries signed in 2013 already opened up unlimited codeshare rights, including via intermediate hubs, and unrestricted cargo rights.
A report in the Times of India said that the decision comes against the backdrop of several Australian airlines and Indian carriers expressing desire to operate between the two countries. Both
IndiGo and Vistara, which are firming up plans for international services, are understood to be eying the Australia market.
According to reports, India is the eighth-biggest source country for travellers to Australia.
At present, the only Indian carrier that operates a direct flight to Sydney is Air India, while Qantas through a codeshare deal with Jet Airways allows the Australian carrier to serve India from Singapore, Bangkok, and Hong Kong. SilkAir and Virgin Australia also operate on codeshare, as well as Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines for flights from Singapore to India.
Seat limit will be lifted but no freighter ops yet
The new deal will allow Australian airlines to operate unlimited services between their own country and the six major metropolitan airports in India, namely Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.
In turn, Indian carriers will get unlimited access for flights to six hubs in Australia - Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and one more airport yet to be named.
Air India nor Qantas currently operate dedicated freighter services between the two countries.
The previous agreement limited capacity to 6,500 seats per week. This limit will now be lifted, allowing additional carriers, particularly from India, to enter the market. Currently, national airline Air India is the dominant carrier to Australia, and Qantas to India.
Other airlines with a significant presence on routes between the countries via their home bases are AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.
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