Qantas will begin flights from both Sydney and Melbourne to Delhi from December 2021 as the airline revs up its return to international skies.
Although the flights from Delhi to Sydney and Melbourne will be non-stop, Qantas says the Sydney-Delhi and Melbourne-Delhi legs will include a stopover at Adelaide.
The airline had previously announced Darwin would be the stopover for Sydney-Delhi flights, and says it "work with customers to reaccommodate bookings made from Darwin to Delhi."
Passengers will fly on a Qantas Airbus A330, which has 28 lie-flat business class seats and 269 economy seats.
Sydney-Delhi QF67 flights will begin on December 6 at an initial three days per week – Monday, Thursday and Saturday – departing Sydney at 6.05am for a 3.35pm touchdown in Delhi.
The QF68 return leg leaves Delhi at 6pm and heads straight to Sydney to land at 11.45am the following day.
Qantas plans to boost the Sydney-Delhi route to a daily service from January 3, although the airline maintains the flights will "initially operate until at least late March 2022, with a view to continuing if there is sufficient demand."
A Qantas spokesperson tells Executive Traveller that the route is still considered to be "seasonal" at this stage.
Qantas' Melbourne-Delhi service will launch on December 22, running four times a week throughout the year.
The Melbourne-Delhi flight QF69 will depart Melbourne at 9.25am every Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, with a short stopover in Adelaide before heading to Delhi for a 6.10pm touchdown.
At the time of writing, the Adelaide-Delhi leg of QF69 can also be booked on its own, departing Adelaide at 11.15am – although you'll need to fly from Delhi back to Sydney or Melbourne and then catch a connecting domestic flight to Adelaide.
The QF70 return leg leaves Delhi at 7.55pm and heads straight to Melbourne to land at 1.35pm the following day.
Doubling down on Delhi
Qantas says that when the Sydney-Delhi route went on sale it experienced the fastest booking surge for flights leaving Australia since the airline announced its international restart plans in August.
This also included "a lot of connecting traffic from Melbourne to Sydney," Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce remarked today, "and that gave us the confidence to fly direct from Melbourne to Delhi."
Speaking at the route's announcement at Melbourne Airport, Joyce said that as a result of the pandemic "we see more people wanting to fly direct rather than going through hubs" such as Singapore, which Qantas had previously relied upon with partner Jet Airways, which collapsed into bankruptcy in 2019.
"Qantas used to service the market into Singapore and then connect with an Indian carrier to service a range of destinations in India," Joyce reflected.
"We see ourselves now going direct to India, and we think the demand for that is going to be substantial."
All travellers on the Delhi flights will need to be fully-vaccinated and must also return a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the departure of their return flight to Sydney or Melbourne.