Emirates Airline and Deutsche Lufthansa – two of the biggest operators of Airbus Group's A380 jets – expect to start flying the aircraft into India after the nation's government recently lifted a ban on the superjumbos.
Executives at the two airlines said they would make a final decision on flying the A380 – the world's biggest passenger jet – to India depending on their studies of the ability of the nation's airports to handle them, reported Dow Jones Newswires.
"We look forward to launching the Airbus A380 services in India soon as it is one of the most important intercontinental markets for Lufthansa," said Frank Puettmann, director of corporate communications for Asia-Pacific at Lufthansa.
The German carrier is currently "evaluating the new possibilities, for example when and where to deploy the aircraft in India," he said, but wouldn't give a time frame on the decision.
The Indian government on January 27 lifted an unofficial six-year ban on A380 flights, allowing airlines to start flying them to four major airports in the country. Authorities had previously expressed concerned that the large carrying capacity of the jet, which could reach as many 853 passengers in an all-coach configuration, would put Indian airlines at a competitive disadvantage.
"We will be reviewing our existing operations, and look forward to serving Indian travellers with our flagship aircraft in the near future," said Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, Emirates' vice-president for India and Nepal.
Lufthansa and Emirates were among several foreign airlines that had previously urged the Indian government to let them use the double-decker A380 on high-density overseas routes to and from the country. The airlines had argued that the aircraft would help to ease congestion at Indian airports and allow them to cut costs.
Under the recently-liberalised norms, foreign carriers can now launch A380 flights to the airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad – which the government considers capable of handling such large planes. Nine out of 10 international airlines that operate the A380s have scheduled flights into India.
Dubai-based Emirates, which operates 44 A380s, has 185 flights per week to 10 cities in India. Lufthansa, which has 10 A380s, operates 64 flights per week to five Indian cities.