Foreign trips to get cheaper, as A380s allowed to land

Tags: News
The civil aviation ministry has lifted a prohibition on the Airbus A380s to land in India. This may lead to a drop in international airfares, possibly at the cost of Indian carriers flying abroad.

These planes have been cleared for landing at Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad airports, the only ones equipped to handle the A380. The ban stemmed from concerns that foreign airlines operating A380s will grab a larger share of international traffic, thereby hurting Indian players, especially Air India.

Earlier this month civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said his government was considering removing the restriction. A statement from his ministry on Monday and quoted by Reuters said, “Flights of the A380 to India will be allowed to airports equipped to handle them… The operations of the A380 will be subject to overall traffic entitlements within bilateral air service agreements with different countries.”

The rule change will benefit Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Lufthansa and Br­itish Airways that have A380s but did not fly them on their Indian operations.

Etihad and Qatar Airways are yet to take delivery of their ordered A380s.

Emirates immediately hailed the decision. “Any decision to deploy the A380 on our network is dependent on passenger demand… as well as the ability of airports to handle the aircraft. Our A380s are extremely popular with our customers. It is also efficient to operate in terms of fuel consumption and emissions. We will review our existing operations, and look forward to serving Indian travellers with our flagship aircraft in the near future,” said the Emirates spokesperson.

Large planes like the A380, combined with higher load factors, can efficiently use limited airport slots and add to passenger numbers without additional flights.

Kiran Rao, Airbus EVP for strategy and marketing, said, “This is good news for Indian airports and the Indian flying public. The A380 is the world’s most fuel-efficient aircraft with the lowest operating cost per seat and the highest revenue generating potential, which benefits airlines and those travelling. For Indian passengers the A380 would offer the world’s most comfortable flying experience.” According to an aviation analyst, a decision to let the A380 in was kept on hold in view of the impact it could have on Air India.

“The decision is most likely to benefit Jet-Etihad and Tata-SIA. Etihad is yet to take delivery of its A380s. Singapore Airlines already operates the aircraft. It is yet to see how things pan out for the domestic players,” he said, adding that the decision might also result in a competitive pricing environment.

Amber Dubey, KPMG partner, said, “It’s in line with a spate of pro-business reforms announced by the ministry. It shows the Indian aviation market to be liberal and attractive. The A380 will help bring down fares and improve the cost competitiveness of the Indian tourism sector. They will improve the efficiency and capacity use of Indian airports. This decision will also allow India to get more market access in the UAE, Germany and Singapore for Indian goods and services. All in all, a great move that will show benefits in the coming summer season.”

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