Explained: Lufthansa scraping services to India and suspension of India-Germany air bubble


German airline Lufthansa has cancelled all flights to India till October 20 following a dispute with the Indian government over the number of flights currently allowed to operate.

One of the world’s largest operators, Lufthansa in a statement on this issue, said: “Due to the Indian government’s rejection of Lufthansa’s flight schedule for October, Lufthansa will now have to cancel all planned flights between Germany and India between 30 September and 20 October, unfortunately”.

The DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) shared that the number of weekly flights being operated by Lufthansa (as part of the air bubble between India and Germany during the pandemic) is 20, while Indian carriers operate between three and four flights per week.

The DGCA has said this means domestic carriers are at a “significant disadvantage”.

“… is putting Indian carriers at a significant disadvantage resulting in inequitable distribution of traffic in favour of Lufthansa,” the civil aviation regulator’s statement said.

The government proposed limiting Lufthansa’s flights to seven per week, which the airline did not accept.

However, negotiations still continue between both sides.

As per the latest developments, India and Germany have agreed to hold talks over the status of their travel bubble agreement following the decision taken by Lufthansa. It seems both sides are keen on negotiating and resuming the travel bubble and future air schedules.

With countries slowly opening their borders for international air travel, India set up the air bubble – which lets nationals of each country travel in either direction – with Germany in July; although regular scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Restrictions are however in place for Indian nationals travelling to Germany and this, the government has said, was putting domestic airlines at a disadvantage and resulted in “inequitable distribution of traffic in favour of Lufthansa”.

India’s air transport bubble with Germany has been suspended with Air India too, consequently cancelling its flights to Frankfurt from Delhi.

“All our flights to and from Frankfurt had to be cancelled due to withdrawal of permission by the German authorities”, said an Air India spokesperson.

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