DGCA rejects Germany’s demand for more flights to protect Indian carriers

NEW DELHI: In an attempt to provide level-playing field to Indian carriers with respect to flight connections with Germany under the existing bubble arrangement, the Indian government has rejected a request by Lufthansa to operate 20 flights a week to India.

“…there are restrictions in place for Indian nationals desiring to travel to Germany, which was putting Indian carriers at a significant disadvantage resulting in inequitable distribution of traffic in favour of Lufthansa,” Directorate General of Civil Aviation DG Arun Kumar told ET.

Kumar added that as against Indian carriers operating 3-4 flights a week, Lufthansa operated 20 flights a week.

“In spite of this disparity we offered to clear seven flights a week for Lufthansa which was not accepted by them. Negotiations continue,” Kumar further said.

DGCA is the negotiating authority on these bubbles from the Indian side.

Post the pandemic, India decided on partial resumption on international flights by agreeing into bubble arrangement with about 14 countries, including Germany.

As part of the bubble arrangement, airlines from these countries are allowed to operate flights between destinations from countries.

India formalised an air bubble with Germany in July 2020. Air India has been operating flights to Germany and Lufthansa has been operating flights to India. Among Indian carriers, Vistara was also looking at Germany as one of the destinations in Europe.

While air bubble is the new arrangement, airlines provided international connectivity under bilateral arrangement on flights allowed till prior to the pandemic.

In the past, observations have been made by wings of the government highlighting that such bilateral arrangement has disadvantaged the Indian carriers.

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