Superjumbo A-380s may fly to India

Superjumbo A-380s may fly to India

In one step forward, the Civil Aviation Ministry today met for the first time to decide on allowing the Airbus A-380s to operate at some airports, years after some major foreign carriers sought the right to fly these superjumbos to India.

Preliminary discussions were held at the meeting chaired by Civil Aviation Secretary K N Shrivastava and attended by DGCA Arun Mishra, Air India CMD Rohit Nandan and officials of the Ministry.

Official sources said a decision on the issue would be taken only after these officials take the views of all Indian carriers, but no date for such a meeting has been fixed.
The Indian airlines have so far been opposed to the entry of the superjumbo as they feel that a large chunk of passenger traffic out of India would be captured by the foreign carriers flying these aircraft, they said.

Today's meeting came in the wake of investments in Indian carriers by three major foreign carriers, two of which -- Singapore Airlines and Etihad -- own and operate the A-380s. AirAsia does not fly these fully double-decker, wide-body and twin-aisled long-haul jets.

The other carriers which have been wanting to operate these aircraft, which can accommodate over 525 passengers in a three-class configuration, are Lufthansa and Emirates. These airlines have submitted applications to fly the superjumbos as early as in 2008-09.

The sources said changes in the bilateral air services agreements (ASAs), which India has with a large number of countries, would have to be made to give effect to a decision to allow the A-380s, whenever it is taken.

The ASAs would have to be re-worked to include a cap on seats instead of frequencies, as the Indian carriers are concerned over the fact that a foreign carrier could fly A-380s as per their country's ASAs and take away a large chunk of air travellers on a particular route.

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