The Airbus 380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft, could soon be flying into Indian airports after the civil aviation ministry on Monday permitted foreign carriers to operate these aircraft to destinations in the country.
Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Lufthansa have shown interest in flying the aircraft into India. Currently, airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad are equipped to handle operations by an A380.
“Now, flights of A380 to India will be allowed to airports which are equipped to handle them. The decision to lift the ban was taken after consulting with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Air India and the Airports Authority of India (AAI),” said a release from the civil aviation ministry.
The ministry will now amend Air Services Agreements (ASAs), which prohibits A380 operations to India. The operations of the A380s would be within the overall traffic entitlements within the bilateral Air Service Agreements (ASAs) with different countries. All the four airports would also have to get DGCA certification and make adequate preparation in terms of services required.
The government had been against allowing A380 operations in to the country on the ground that it will be difficult for Indian carriers to compete with airlines operating these ultra long-haul planes. A review of this decision came after a DGCA study showed that the operations of the A380 would not adversely affect operations of Indian carriers.
The A380 can carry up to 850 passengers in an all-economy configuration and 550-600 passengers in three-class configuration allowing airlines to transport more travellers without adding flights. As expected, foreign airlines have welcomed the move by the government.
“The clearance to deploy A380s on Indian routes is favourable news to the Indian aviation industry. Singapore Airlines will evaluate the commercial viability of this recent development based on available traffic rights and resources,” David Lau, general manager (India), Singapore Airlines was quoted in a statement issued to the media.
Emirates also said that they review their existing operations. “We will be reviewing our existing operations, and look forward to serving Indian travellers with our flagship aircraft in the near future,” the airline said in an email reply.