Original story published Oct. 30, 20:00 IST (14:30 UTC)
German flag carrier Deutsche Lufthansa AG seems to be having a torrid time becoming the first European airline to commence Airbus A380 super-jumbo services to India. Its A380 service on the Frankfurt New Delhi route which was to commence last Sunday is seemingly stuck in some bureaucratic wrangle, and the ‘appropriate paperwork’ has not been issued. Sources at the airline indicate the delay is due to “documentation formalities to be completed” by the ministry of civil aviation and its regulatory department the directorate general of civil aviation.
The airline lost out to Emirates at Mumbai and was forced to continue its Boeing 747-400 service, since the CSI airport has only one A380 gate at present. Aviation enthusiasts were sure that Lufthansa would not face this capacity constraint at New Delhi since IGI airport has three A380 capable gates. The delays in India’s famous bureaucracy has disrupted plans of passengers, fans and the airline alike.
For now, the airline is forced to continue to its Boeing 747-8i service to New Delhi. The government’s denial of A380 operations till recently has made the aircraft very popular amongst Indian passengers, and many of them do not mind paying a small premium to fly the aircraft. Lufthansa is losing this enthusiast demand, and stands to lose the upcoming holiday traffic which is already beginning to ramp-up. While the premium classes are similar in capacity on the A380 and the 747-8i, the latter holds about 100 seats less in economy class compared to the A380.
Expect the midnight oil to be burning at the airline’s office and the German embassy in New Delhi while they try and ‘resolve’ this issue with the powers that are.
In the meantime as an airline spokesperson says “Lufthansa is waiting to hear from the authorities.” and we at Bangalore Aviation will keep you updated.
Share your thoughts and commiserations for the airline via a comment.
Update-1 October 31, 18:00 IST (12:30Z)
Lufthansa has released a statement clarifying the situation.
Lufthansa had, as announced, originally planned to operate the daily LH 760/761 flight between Frankfurt and Delhi at the start of the winter flight schedules 2014/15 (26 October 2014) with an Airbus A380 instead of a Boeing 747. The bilateral traffic rights required for approval of the deployment of an A380 are spelt out in a binding agreement between Germany and India, which came into force on 7 October 2014. Under the terms of that agreement, however, an application must be submitted and formally approved for every timetable actually planned for each timetable period. Our timetable (for the winter timetable) has not yet been released by the authorities. In consequence, the switch to an A380 for flight LH 760/761 has been delayed, so the connection will continue to be flown initially up to Thursday, 06 November (including), by a Boeing 747 [747-8i]. Lufthansa, the German embassy in Delhi, the German Transport Ministry and Foreign Ministry are pursuing every possible avenue in a bid to get the A380 operating on the route to Delhi as soon as possible.