Govt likely to clear air for A380 soon

Business

The world's largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus 380, could soon take to the Indian skies as the government plans to allow international airlines to operate these ultra long-haul planes into the country.

Allowing carriers to operate Airbus 380s into India is a change of stance by the government which had earlier stopped airlines from flying these planes into India to protect the Indian carriers.

Lufthansa, Emirates and Singapore Airlines had shown interest in operating the aircraft into India.

"We will allow carriers, who want to fly Airbus 380s into India under the existing bilateral allotments they have," said a senior civil aviation ministry official, who did not want to be identified.

The government had not been allowing these carriers to operate Airbus 380s on the ground that it will be difficult for Indian carriers to compete with airlines operating ultra long-haul planes.

"Why should it be unfair for Indian carrier when the number of weekly seats allowed under the bilaterals to these carriers remains unchanged? They can operate larger planes but their quota of seats under the bilateral will not be changed and that will ensure the level-playing field is not distorted," the official said.

"The rules will be changed to allow them bring in Airbus 380s. We should take pride in the fact that we have airports that can handle Airbus 380s..," said the official.

Currently, airports in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad are equipped to handle the operations of Airbus 380s.

As expected, the airlines have welcomed the move. "Emirates has always supported the introduction of the latest products and services to benefit the consumer," said an airline spokesperson.

Airbus 380 is the largest plane by size and the double-deck plane has a seating capacity for over 525 passengers in a three-class configuration. Around 85 such planes operate across the world.

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