MIAMI — Better late than never: India has finally lifted a ban prohibiting the double-decker Airbus A380 from the country’s airports. India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation says the A380 ban was put in place due to a lack of infrastructure to handle the large aircraft. Unofficially, many have said that the ban was only in place to protect flag carrier Air India from further competition.
While the A380 ban has been lifted, only four airports currently meet the infrastructure requirements to handle the A380: Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. “The operation of A380s will help airports to generate more revenue, give more comfortable and luxurious travel to passengers, liberalize the Civil Aviation milieu in India and boost the image of Indian civil aviation in the international market,” said India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation via press release.
As of now, no Indian airline has outstanding orders for the Airbus A380, including national carrier Air India. India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation says that three airlines have expressed interested in operating their A380’s to India so far: Emirates, Lufthansa, and Singapore.
The most likely candidate for A380 service to India would be Emirates, with its massive and ever expanding A380 fleet. Currently, Emirates serves the city of Mumbai with five daily flights via aircraft ranging from the Airbus A330 to the Boeing 777-300ER. Operating an A380 would allow Emirates to increase capacity while also improving the passenger experience.
The lifting of the ban comes just days after the defunct Kingfisher Airlines canceled its order for five A380’s. Kingfisher commenced operations in India in 2005, but shut down in early 2012 due to financial difficulties. It is now unlikely Kingfisher will ever return to service.