India and Australia have moved to significantly liberalize travel between the two the countries in what has been hailed as an important step in bilateral relations.
New bilateral air services arrangements mean Australian airlines now have unlimited access to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore airports in India.
Indian airlines have unlimited access to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide airports in Australia. India may also nominate one additional airport in Australia for unlimited access.
Under the previous arrangements, access to these airports was capped at 6,500 seats each way per week.
Australian Transport Minister Michael McCormack and Tourism Minister Steve Ciobo said the new arrangements provided a foundation to increase direct flights between Australia and India in line with growth in the Indian market.
The countries already trade goods and services worth $A27.4 billion.
“India is currently our seventh most valuable international tourism market with 302,200 visitors contributing $A1.43 billion to the Australian economy in 2017,’’ the Ministers said in a statement.
“This valuable market continues to grow and it is estimated that by 2026-27 Australia will welcome more than 640,000 Indians to our shores. This new aviation agreement ensures we have capacity to facilitate this outstanding growth.”
Meanwhile, airline and airport lobby groups yesterday welcomed news the government had set terms of reference for a Productivity Commission inquiry into the economic regulation of airport services.
The two groups have already been facing off against each other in the run-up to the inquiry and airport privatizations was a major topic at the recent International Air Transport Association conference in Sydney.
The inquiry will review the efficiency and effectiveness of the economic regulation of airport services provided to airlines and the provision of passenger and freight transport services at the major city airports.
It will also look at any unintended consequences of the regulatory price cap and price notification regime for regional air services into and out of Sydney Airport.
The Commission is due to report to the government within 12 months.
Disclosure: Steve Creedy contributes to the Australian Airports Association’s The Airport Professional website.