Qantas: Melbourne–Delhi direct starts today
QF69 out of Melbourne, via Adelaide starts today. The flight departs Melbourne at 9.25 am on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with a short stop in Adelaide, returning to the air at 11:15 am, and then on to Delhi, landing at 6:10 pm local time. QF70 – the return leg departs Delhi at 7.55 pm flying direct to Melbourne ( no Adelaide stopover ) landing at 1.35 pm the next day.
QF67 the ‘direct’ Sydney flight which began on 6 December 2021, also has a stopover in Adelaide on the way out – probably due to the aircraft assigned to the route, the A330. The 3 days a week flight (Monday, Thursday and Saturday) leaves early at 6:05 am, landing in Delhi at 3:35 pm. QF68, the return flight leaves at 6 pm, flying directly to Sydney at 6 pm, arriving in Sydney the next day at 11:45 pm.
Tickets on both routes have been flying off the booking screens according to Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David, doubtless due to the large ex-patriot communities in both cities.
‘Usually it takes 12 months to sell out flights on a new international route, but these flights sold out in a few hours.
We’re also seeing even more demand for flights from Delhi to Melbourne with international students and skilled migrants now able to return to Australia.’Qantas Domestic and International CEO Andrew David
The Melbourne to Delhi route is considered permanent, while the Sydney departure is classed as seasonal. The future of both routes in terms of frequency and capacity will depend on demand and aircraft availability, as will the Adelaide stop-over while an A330 is still scheduled. If this route gets upgraded to a B787 Dreamliner, then the schedule might change, making them actual direct flights.
Direct flights have become a lot more popular during the pandemic. The public seem to think them safer since they avoided the mingling that occurs in transit airports, along with the changes in crew and passengers on codeshared connections.
India is ever fascinating, and I long to go back, but given the state of the pandemic, I think it will take a while for both me and the tourist market to return to India.