Petty politics grounds Lufthansa’s A380 India plans

With baited anticipation, many Indians were awaiting an announcement from German airline Lufthansa about commencing Airbus A380 services to India, specifically New Delhi.

Late last year, there were strong indications that Lufthansa would be the first airline to commence a daily A380 service between New Delhi and Frankfurt.

Lufthansa had to ignore the carrier’s two biggest markets for their initial A380 services for varying reasons. For the United States, the reasons may be, Lufthansa’s internal understandings with the North American Star Alliance Atlantic Plus-Plus partner airlines United, Continental and Air Canada. Here in India, Lufthansa, had applied to the Ministry of Civil Aviation for the requisite permissions over a year ago, which are still not received.

Now it appears the murky world of Indian politics and its close nexus with business has reared its ugly head, as per news reports from the Times of India group.

Under the guise of “protecting” Indian carriers, the ministry has denied Lufthansa permission. However there is strong belief amongst the aviation community that the real reason is to protect the business interests of one particular airline whose management is known to be “close” to the powers that are.

This airline has a hub in Europe for its North American and non-London European connections.

The A380 has tremendous appeal as an aircraft, and existing operators like Emirates even charge a fare premium up to 25% for some of their A380 flights. Lufthansa would have no problems filling its A380 service.

In addition to weaning a large number of customers away, in due course Lufthansa will surely commence an A380 service to New York, and this would significantly hurt the interests of the particular airline in question.

Additionally, once permission is granted to Lufthansa, it would become impossible to refuse an A380 request from Gulf behemoth Emirates, who will be shortly re-starting its A380 to New York and already has an A380 service to Toronto. A combined one-two by Emirates and Lufthansa will decimate the North America operations of this particular carrier.

Short sighted policies are the bane of Indian governance, and this recent demonstration of decisions favouring the connected few at the expense of the country as a whole, is just another example of the rot that still reigns supreme within the halls of power.

In case you are wondering who this airline is, we can say it is not Air India, but simple reasoning will reveal the answer.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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