Airbus A380s to operate in India, benefiting passengers
By Rohit Vaid, New Delhi, Jan 27 : More travel options and lower fares await air passengers after the government Monday allowed Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger aircraft, to fly into the country.
The civil aviation ministry lifted the ban imposed in 2008 on the ground that operation of A380s could work against the interest of Indian carriers.
Industry insiders said not just passengers, but airport operators also are expected to benefit from the revocation of the ban on Airbus A380s' operations in India.
It is expected that A380s operations will increase airport revenues and help in decongestion during the peak travel season.
"A380s will help bring down fares and improve the cost competitiveness of the Indian tourism sector. They will improve the efficiency and capacity utilisation at Indian airports," Amber Dubey, partner and head - aerospace and defence, KPMG, told IANS.
The super jumbo which can accommodate up to 853 in a single-class configuration is expected to increase the parking, housing and landing (PHL) component of airport's operators' revenues.
"The decision (to allow A380 operations) is positive for the industry, especially for airports which have limited slots. Mumbai, which has a space constraint, will benefit from this move," Ankur Bhatia, member, Confederation of Indian Industry's panel on civil aviation, told IANS.
Other industry insiders said the move will allow the formation of a new marketing and seat pricing category in the Indian market.
"It will be interesting to know the pricing strategy that will be adopted by airlines to take advantage of the aircraft in Indian market as the aircraft will provide unique opportunity of low operating cost per seat and high returns due to fuel mileage," Rajiv Chib, associate director, aerospace and defence at PricewaterhouseCoopers, told IANS.
Domestic airline insiders said that the buzz created around the start of a new category of aircraft's operations will also impact passenger traffic flows.
"Recently, passengers were attracted by the buzz surrounding Air India's 787s. Being the only airline which operated the aircraft type in India provided the airline with an opportunity to market the slew of onbaord amenities to the passengers," a domestic airline official, who did not wish to be named, told IANS.
Major international passenger carriers such as Singapore Airline, Emirates and Lufthansa have shown interest in operating A380 aircraft in India on various international routes.
"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, said.
Lufthansa too welcomed the decision and said it will examine the opportunities but currently has no concrete plans for immediate flight operations.
"Lufthansa India will be very high on our list for future A380 operations," the company said in a statement when contacted.
Emirates Airlines said that it will also review its existing operations, and might introduce the service of the aircraft in the near future.
At present only four airports -- Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore -- have the required infrastructure for handling A380 operations. Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which operates the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), also welcomed the latest decision.
"IGIA is one of the few airports in India equipped to handle A380 flight operations backed by our state-of-the-art infrastructure, both in the terms of passenger terminal facilities and aircraft operations airside facilities," a DIAL spokesperson said.
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at email@example.com)
--IANS (Posted on 27-01-2014)
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