The Chief Executive Officer of Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr, told the Economic Times (ET) that the company is looking to deepen its partnership with Air India as part of its India expansion policy.
According to the report, Spohr claimed that this partnership would work side by side with Lufthansa's plans to expand its own flights to India.
The prominent German airlines presented a two-fold expansion strategy at the 79th annual general meeting (AGM) of the International Airport Transport Association (IATA) and World Air Transport Summit. The first was to expand its own airline's reach in India and the second was to work closely with Air India towards a “metal neutral joint venture on India - Frankfurt route” where revenues would be shared by both airlines irrespective of the aircraft carrier.
According to ET, Spohr expressed Lufthansa's interest in partnering with Air India and acknowledged that the airline's potential hasn't been fully utilised under government ownership. He mentioned that with the changes brought by Tata and Singapore Airlines' involvement, Air India has transformed, creating an opportunity for a strong partnership. However, specific details regarding the commercial partnership were not disclosed.
It is expected that the collaboration between Lufthansa and Air India will extend beyond passenger services to include other areas such as Cargo, Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO), Training, and Information Technology (IT) added the report.
In April, Lufthansa had expressed its interest in bidding for Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL), the MRO firm set to be sold by the Indian government. While Lufthansa has maintained a strong presence in India, Gulf carriers like Emirates and Qatar Airways have successfully attracted transit passengers to Europe and North America through their Middle Eastern hubs in Dubai and Doha. This strategic move may add to the competition for Middle Eastern carriers.
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Lufthansa is already a significant player in the Japanese, Indian, and Chinese markets, and during the current summer season, the airline group will operate 56 weekly flights, making it the largest airline group connecting India and Europe.
Lufthansa aims to further enhance its position by resuming flights on the Frankfurt-Hyderabad route and launching Bengaluru-Munich flights. Moreover, the group plans to introduce new routes through its sister carriers, Swiss and Austrian Airlines.
Looking ahead, Lufthansa intends to deploy Airbus A380 aircraft on the Delhi route during the upcoming winter season. In the same report, Spohr mentioned that the A380 has been well-received by both crews and passengers, and it remains to be seen if it will return to India, as it has proven to be a popular choice among Indian customers in the past.