NEW DELHI: Airline major Lufthansa said on Tuesday that it will cancel all planned flights between Germany and India from September 30 to October 20. According to the airline, the move comes after Indian authorities rejected Lufthansa’s planned flight schedule for October.
“Lufthansa had applied for the continuation of special flights it was granted to operate until the end of September,” the airline said in a statement. “This application process is necessary since India has, so far, not accepted the invitation by the German government to discuss the details regarding a temporary travel agreement between both the countries,” it said.
Lufthansa was operating these flights under the ‘Air Bubble’ agreement between India and Germany. India had formalised an ‘Air Bubble’ agreement with Germany in July 2020. This type of arrangement allows nationals of both the countries to travel in either direction.
As per the statement, Lufthansa had originally scheduled flights for October in order to continue connecting Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru with Europe and other regions in Lufthansa’s worldwide network. “The October schedule would also have seen the addition of flights to and from Chennai, one of the most important cities in southern India,” it said.
The airline urged India to work together with the German government in order to establish a temporary travel agreement between both the countries. “Such an agreement is necessary to address the urgent need of tens of thousands of Indians and foreign nationals for travel to and from India and would also help balance the interests of both the countries’ airlines.
“As visa issuance is restarting and demand for flights to and from India is increasing, it is regrettable that Lufthansa is currently being unnecessarily restricted in its ability to serve its loyal Indian customers and enable their desired travel,” the airline said.
However, aviation regulator DGCA in a statement said that 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. “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,” the DGCA said.
Earlier, Lufthansa had said that it will operate 160 flights between India and Germany in September. This would have been a four-fold increase in flights to and from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Lufthansa has been operating flights from India for several months between Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru and its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.