New Delhi, Jan. 27: The government today approved the operation of Airbus A380 at four Indian airports equipped to handle these large planes.
However, the approval to the world’s largest aircraft comes with riders and has till now elicited a cautious response from global carriers, which are yet to decide on flying their A380s.
Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Lufthansa have been pressing the government to allow them to fly these aircraft into India.
The restrictions on the double-decker planes, capable of flying up to 850 passengers, were lifted after weeks of consultations among the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Air India and the Airports Authority of India.
“Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh has decided to remove the restrictions on flights of Airbus A380 to India. Now, A380 flights to India will be allowed to airports, which are equipped to handle them. At present, only Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore have the required infrastructure for operations of the A380,” the civil aviation ministry said in its release.
Earlier, the government had refused to allow the A380s, fearing that these massive aircraft would see foreign airlines take away a large chunk of international traffic.
The decision was reviewed after a DGCA study showed that the A380 would not affect the operations of domestic carriers.
However, the civil aviation ministry has set certain conditions. “As an A380 can fly around 600-800 passengers at a time, the number of flights have to be adjusted according to the bilateral traffic entitlement with the country. Otherwise, there could be discrepancy between the number of seats per week entitled to that country and the number of people flying in,” a senior civil ministry official said.
Singapore Airlines and Emirates have welcomed the government’s move. However, both have adopted a cautious strategy.
An Emirates spokesperson said any decision to deploy an A380 was dependent on passenger demand on a particular route as well as the ability of airports to handle the aircraft.
Singapore International Airlines, which will soon start its joint venture operations with Tata Sons, said it would study the commercial viability of running these double-decker services to India.