New Delhi: The aviation ministry has asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to study the impact of allowing Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger jet, on fares, even as it juggles long-pending requests from airlines such as Emirates, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines to fly the aircraft to and from destinations in India.
Nine international airline firms operate the wide-body, double-deck jets that can seat as many as 525 passengers. The Airbus A380 has been barred from flying commercially to locations in India because of the view that it may stretch the existing infrastructure at Indian airports and undermine local airlines that do not have such aircraft in their fleets.
The matter to allow A380 into India was discussed at a meeting in the aviation ministry on Wednesday, which included officials of DGCA, Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Air India, according to a government official present at the meeting who declined to be identified.
It was decided that the aviation regulator will submit a study in less than a month that will look at two critical issues: the impact on other airlines flying the same routes that do not have the jumbo jets (because the A380 has more seats it could, potentially, charge less per ticket), and what it means for bilateral agreements that India has with other countries and which mention not the number of seats but the frequency of flights (which means that an airline choosing to fly the A380 could actually increase the number of seats).
At Wednesday’s meeting, Air India opposed the move to allow A380 saying it will affect local airlines, according to the official quoted earlier. “Nothing has been decided as yet. We will discuss with other domestic airlines also,” the official said, referring to Jet Airways, SpiceJet and IndiGo, which also ply on international routes.
Foreign airlines welcomed the move.
Emirates said it is keen on bringing the A380 into India. “As India is a key market for Emirates, we are keen on bringing the A380 into the country, subject to these factors,” a spokesman said in an email, referring to factors including passenger demand, airport capability and government permissions.
Lufthansa, too, said it was keen but added that all its A380s are already deployed and the ones coming in 2014 have also been earmarked for various routes.
“Lufthansa is generally interested to have the possibility to operate all of its aircraft to all of its overseas markets, including India, in order to meet changes in demand and serve the market needs best,” a Lufthansa spokesman said in an email, adding that it had first made the request to fly A380s to India in 2008.
“Delhi and Bangalore are currently ready to handle aircraft and passengers of large aircraft like the A380 and the Boeing 747-8. In September, we have been able to introduce our second A380 route to China with a new flight to Shanghai,” the spokesman said. “We have currently no additional aircraft available for any further routes for the near future.”