LONDON – In a heated spat between Lufthansa (LH) and the Indian Government, the German carrier has taken the decision to scrap its services to India.
This comes three weeks after the airline would provide 160 flights to the country, with the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) declining to sign off on the scheduling. The Indian Government’s reasoning behind this was over Germany imposing stricter entry restrictions which would lead to an “inequitable distribution of traffic”.
Lufthansa said that its ability to serve India is being “unnecessarily restricted,” urging agreements to be made between the Indian & German states.
Another area of argument from LH was that the DGCA suggested to the airline that it only operates seven weekly flights, which was closer to the three or four which are operated by long-haul Indian carriers.
The airline rejected this on the basis of original plans to service the country at least 23 times per week through September and additional flights to Chennai (MAA) in October.
According to Mark Martin of Martin Consulting, he stated that India is also not wanting to allow LH to add the codes of partner airlines to its flights due to competitive scope. Martin also went on to discuss the air bubble arrangements, criticizing the German government for making concessions.
“Air bubbles only work when implemented between countries with similar infection levels. Germany can’t be expected to make concessions at a time when infection rates are spiking and there’s no flattening of the curve in India.”
Germany Jumping the Gun?
It could be suggested that Germany was jumping the gun, especially if it was basing service launches on previous agreements. With COVID-19 being such a prevalent issue in the world, including the high rising cases in India, it became increasingly clear that these services would not go ahead quickly enough.
This even got to the point that Hong Kong had to ban Air India (AI) flights into the country due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
The continued blanket bans on international travel too are causing more concern amongst airlines, as a lot of traffic comes from the said market.
Lufthansa after Lost Revenue
The German government may have pushed the Indian state to this breaking point because of LH’s recent actions around restructuring and bailouts. With the crisis package now in effect, the airline is obviously now looking for ways it can make revenue during the pandemic; otherwise, the bailout money could run out a lot quicker than it would like to.
It will be interesting to see how the German government and LH now react to the news from the Indian Government. Other markets across Asia and the globe will have to be explored, all providing that the restrictions are not as tight, meaning there is room for manoeuvrability and revenue.
Featured Image: Lufthansa Airbus A350-900. Photo Credit: Kochan Kleps