German carrier Lufthansa on Wednesday said it plans to operate high-capacity double-deck Airbus A380 aircraft in India from the winter schedule for which it has approached the government for permission. The proposed deployment of the super-jumbo plane on some of its local routes is a part of the airline's India growth plans that it had chalked for the fast-growing market, a senior Lufthansa official said in Mumbai.
"We have interest in operating super-jumbo from at least two important hubs - Delhi and Mumbai - to begin with from the winter schedule. We have already approached the Government seeking its approval and I think it should happen in the upcoming weeks," Lufthansa Director (South Asia) Wolfgang Will said in Mumbai. The winter schedule for airlines in India commences from March-end every year and lasts up to October.
"We will operate them wherever we can but it will also depend on the availability of the aircraft," he added.
If Lufthansa receives the nod, it will become the third international airline to operate the world's largest passenger jet in the country after Singapore Airlines, which started A380 operations to India last week, and Gulf carrier Emirates that plans to fly these planes from July 15. Late January, the Government had cleared the deck for A-380 operations from Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore airports, lifting a five-year-old ban.
The restriction, which was lifted by the Civil Aviation Ministry after several years of demands by major foreign carriers, was imposed in 2008 as the Government then felt these massive jets would help foreign airlines take away a large chunk of global traffic which could be detrimental to Indian carriers' interests.
Lufthansa has announced it will fly Boeing 747-8 aircraft on Frankfurt-Mumbai route, offering more capacity and higher business class seats from July 15. The airline already flies Boeing 747-8, which is configured with 8 first class, 80 business and 298 economy class seats, to Delhi and Bangalore. Lufthansa at present operates 46 flights per week from India.
Will said Lufthansa will launch premium economy class, a new segment between economy and business categories, on its Mumbai-Frankfurt flight from next year.