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German airline Lufthansa has cancelled all flights to India from Wednesday till 20 October due to what it termed an “unexpected rejection" of its planned flight schedule for October by Indian authorities.

Lufthansa had applied for the continuation of special flights it was granted to operate until the end of September. This application process is necessary since India has so far not accepted the invitation by the German government to discuss details regarding a temporary travel agreement between both countries," the airline said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Due to the Indian government’s rejection, Lufthansa will now have to cancel all planned flights between Germany and India between 30 September and 20 October," it added.

India currently has air bubble arrangements with 13 countries, including the US, UK, UAE, Maldives, France, Germany, Canada, Qatar, Bahrain, Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Japan. The government is currently in talks with several other countries for similar arrangements. Air bubbles or travel corridors allow designated airlines of two nations to fly passengers either way without any restriction.

This system came into practice during the lockdowns enforced in various countries during the coronavirus pandemic that led to a sudden halt in air travel, impacting millions of travellers.

However, Lufthansa in the statement said that it had urged the Indian authorities to work together with the German government to establish a temporary travel agreement between both countries.

“Such an agreement is necessary to address the urgent needs of tens of thousands of Indians and foreign nationals for travel to and from India and would also help balance the interests of both countries’ airlines," it added.

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that an air bubble agreement between India and Germany was formalized in July.

“An air bubble arrangement allows nationals of both countries to travel in either direction. However, there are restrictions in place for Indian nationals desiring to travel to Germany which was putting Indian carriers at a significant disadvantage resulting in inequitable distribution of traffic in favour of Lufthansa," the aviation watchdog said in a statement. “As against Indian carriers operating 3-4 flights a week, Lufthansa operated 20 flights a week. In spite of this disparity, we offered to clear 7 flights a week for Lufthansa which was not accepted by them. Negotiations continue."

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