Close on the heels of Australian flag carrier Qantas announcing its Sydney-Delhi tri-weekly flight, a petition has been launched in new Zealand for Auckland-Delhi flights, which is gathering steam having already garnered 5000 plus signatures. 

On 22 October, Qantas announced the launch of non-stop Delhi-Sydney flights from early December 2021. The new route will initially begin with three A330 flights a week.

Qantas says it plans to run the schedule “until at least late March 2022, to continue if there is sufficient demand.”

While flights from Sydney to Delhi will fly via Darwin, the flights from Delhi to Sydney would be nonstop.

The starter schedule lists flights every Monday, Thursday and Saturday, with daily flights showing from January 3. However, Qantas says the arrangement is subject to discussions with Indian authorities to finalise necessary approvals.

“Given the strong ties between Australia and India, flights between Sydney and Delhi have been on our radar for some time, and we think there will be strong demand from family and friends wanting to reconnect once borders open. This is the first time in 10 years that Qantas has gone back into the Indian market. We have been used to flying into India over the last few months, on behalf of the Australian government we've done 60 repeat flights,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce was quoted as saying. 

It may be noted that all travellers will need to be fully vaccinated and return a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of their flight's departure. The Indian community in Australia is delighted with the news as they had been waiting for Air India to resume its direct flight between the two countries. Air India was the only carrier that flew direct flights from India before the pandemic.

Talking about New Zealand, this news has again highlighted the need to have a direct flight from New Zealand to India as there is no direct flight from New Zealand to India currently.  At present airlines such as Emirates and Qatar Airlines take 30 to 42 hours to reach India from New Zealand. If there is a direct flight from New Zealand to India it will take approximately less than 15 hours. 

Auckland based travel professional Sijo Abraham has lodged a petition to start a direct flight from Auckland to Delhi and vice versa. The petition named Auckland- Delhi-Auckland Direct Flight Petition, which was lodged last month, has already got more than 5250 signatures.

According to Sijo, “I've analysed current non-stops from Auckland to Singapore/ Kuala Lumpur the nearest country by air distance is 10 hours. My estimate for the new route AKL-DEL direct flight is 14 hours flying time. Auckland should be the best choice because out of the more than 250,000 Kiwi Indians, the majority is based in Auckland.”

He adds, “Air India / Air New Zealand should seriously give a thought to start non stop Auckland del flight as it is an untapped market currently ‘owned’ by Emirates/ Qatar/ Singapore Airlines/ Malaysia with one or more stops through Dubai/ Qatar/ Singapore/Kuala Lumpur. If these packed planes are any indication, there’s 100 percent plenty of market share to be had. Once the borders open it will attract more tourists to New Zealand / India.

“I am planning to contact Airline leadership/ government officials/MPs who would be able to help us in making this proposal happen. More signatures on this petition will help. It's time that Indians in New Zealand can travel to their home airport without stopping in a foreign country on a Non-Indian/Non-New Zealand airline.”

Kiwi Indians are also open heartedly supporting the need to have a direct flight from India to New Zealand as it would be convenient as well as time-saving.

Supporting the need for the direct flight between Indian and New Zealand, Auckland based Gursharan Banga, who hails from Delhi, says, "It will help save time. Also, it would be convenient for seniors like our parents who have to face hassles in transit due to communication issues."

Sharing the sentiment, Gurkirpal Singh Sandhu, who has also signed the petition, says, “The direct flight between Auckland and Delhi will be the biggest gift that the Indian community in New Zealand can get. I strongly feel we need this to happen as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand is yet to make an official announcement of opening its international borders.

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