First in line
New Delhi, Jan. 30: Regular flights of the giant Airbus A380 are likely only by the end of this year.
Earlier this week, India allowed the operations of the world’s largest aircraft, but only Germany’s Lufthansa has indicated its willingness to fly the plane — that too in the next winter schedule.
Other international carriers are still assessing the commercial viability of using the A380, which can seat as many as 850 passengers.
According to reports, Lufthansa plans to start flying the A380 aircraft on routes to India later this year. “We are also interested to use the A380 for the major Indian markets,” CEO Christoph Franz said in an interview to a news agency.
He added that the airline’s fleet of 10 A380s was already committed to the current schedules. “We will likely make it for the winter flight schedule of 2014-15.”
On Monday, the country approved A380 operations at the Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore airports, which are equipped to handle the planes.
However, carriers such as Dubai-based Emirates and Singapore Airlines, which have 44 and 19 A380s, respectively, are yet to take a call.
“We welcome the decision of the Indian aviation authorities to allow A380 operations. Any decision to deploy an A380 on our network is dependent on passenger demand on that particular route as well as the ability of airports to handle the aircraft. We will be reviewing our existing operations, and look forward to serving Indian travellers with our flagship aircraft in the near future,” a spokesperson for Emirates said.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) today took away two time slots each from Jet Airways, IndiGo Airlines and GoAir as they allegedly did not use pilots who could land in Delhi in foggy conditions.
Earlier this month, the DGCA had asked airlines to deploy pilots trained to fly in foggy conditions and use aircraft fitted with devices to match CAT-III instrument landing system in Delhi or face severe action.
“On January 29, visibility at the Indira Gandhi International Airport started dropping after 1730 hours and the runway visual range started to reduce at around 2030 hours. This trend was brought to the notice of all the airlines,” the regulator said.
It added that despite repeated efforts to ensure compliance, two flights each of Jet Airways, GoAir and IndiGo were diverted from Delhi to Jaipur.