Jet Airways is all set to shut down its operations in April. In 2020, Lufthansa Airlines plans to join with Air India, Vistara and other Indian airlines as an alternative partner for Jet Airways. Lufthansa is looking for building a relationship with Indian brands to serve as a feeder service at India’s major ports.
Lufthansa has plans to launch a flight between Munich and Bengaluru in April 2020. According to George Ettiyil, the Senior Director of South Asia Lufthansa Group, apart from the Bengaluru-Munich flight, the group has no plans to add other flight services as of now. Here is a detailed view of his interview with the press.
Now, the Lufthansa Group is planning an agreement with the Vistara group, which allows the passengers to check-in the luggage in one airport for the entire journey, which comprises of both the brand airplanes. According to Ettiyil, this agreement will strengthen their relationship and he predicted that more such agreements will be in order in a few weeks. He also mentioned that Lufthansa partnered up with Jet Airways in the past and now that Jet Airways is out of business, Lufthansa is planning to build a network with other Indian airline brands.
Not just Vistara groups, the Lufthansa has an agreement with Air India, which allows the passengers to book Air India tickets via the Lufthansa ticket system and portal and, vice-versa too. There is news about Air India planning to sell its assets to a private player in March 2020 and there is no information on whether this codesharing plan would apply with the private player who is about to buy Air India.
The Lufthansa is famous for its connectivity between Europe and India. It had direct routes between Frankfurt and Pune until January. However, this route is ceased due to the bankruptcy of PrivatAir. Lufthansa and PrivatAir has a wet-lease agreement under which, the PrivatAir provided aircraft, crew and maintenance team to Lufthansa for the route. Lufthansa was conducting the entire operations with PrivatAir assets for a decade and now that PrivatAir is out of business, Lufthansa is looking for an alternative option.
When asked about whether Lufthansa would personally handling the Frankfurt – Pune route, Ettiyil replied that they are looking for partners with modified aircraft, which have a larger fuel tank, smaller cargo space and with AOC certification (Air Operator Certification from Europe). They are also expecting the aircraft to comply with all European safety standards. Ettiyil also mentioned that once a perfect alternative partner is found, Lufthansa would restart the Frankfurt – Pune route. When Privat Air went off the business, Lufthansa took matters in hand and used its own narrow-body aircraft (A320) for the services but, it has a bad response from the passengers and the service was eventually stopped.
The complication is due to the runway in Pune. The runway in Pune is very small and it can be used only by narrow-body aircraft, which is quite uncommon. Ettiyil suggested that if IAF expands the runway in Pune, wide-body aircraft can be used and this will allow many air carrier brands to use Pune for their routes.
TIE is The Indus Entrepreneurs of New Delhi. Lufthansa is collaborating with this group to sponsor a grand event, The Annual Startup Expo. According to Ettiyil, the TIE is willing to join with Lufthansa for a commercial partnership in the airline genre. When it began, it was just a marketing investment for Lufthansa but, it has developed into a win-win situation. For instance, the Chaayos brand won the title in the Expo and now Lufthansa uses Chaayos brand’s tea in its airlines for its passengers. Just like the Chaayos partnership, Lufthansa is looking for other startup initiatives to be used in their airlines.
According to Ettiyil, these moves of Lufthansa are aimed at providing air services to the second and third tiered cities’ passengers. The two airlines of the Lufthansa Group; the Lufthansa and Swiss have operations in India. Swiss operates direct routes between Zurich and Mumbai/ Delhi. Lufthansa has direct flights between Frankfurt and many important cities like Chennai, Mumbai and Bengaluru, and, direct flights between Munich and Delhi/Mumbai. By April 2020, it has plans to add Munich – Bengaluru route to the list too. Munich – Bengaluru route flights will be flying five days a week, as per the comments of Ettiyil. No other details about the flight service was shared by him.
The Senior Direction also mentioned that Lufthansa has no plans to add more routes, as of now. It is trying to grow its relationship with Indian passengers.