The aviation ministry has lifted the ban on Airbus A380 operations in a move that would enable the likes of Emirates and Singapore Airlines to fly the superjumbo into India.
The double-deck A380 is the world’s largest commercial aircraft, capable of carrying 525 passengers in a three-class configuration and up to 853 in a single-class configuration. Singapore, UAE and Germany have sought permission to operate the A380 to India. Airbus had recently cancelled the contract for 10 A380s by grounded Kingfisher Airlines. No other Indian airline has ordered an A380, which has a listed price of $414 million.
"The decision to remove the restrictions was taken by aviation minister Ajit Singh after consultations with the DGCA, Air India and Airports Authority of India," a ministry official said.
At present only four Indian airports – Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore – can handle A380 operations.
"The A380 is the most fuel efficient aircraft with the lowest operating cost per seat," said Kiran Rao, executive vice-president, Airbus. Emirates said it "looked forward to serving Indian travellers with our flagship aircraft in the near future."
"Singapore Airlines will evaluate the commercial viability of this recent development," said its general manager (India), David Lau.
"The ban on A380s was imposed due to concerns that foreign airlines could grab a high share of international traffic, hurting Air India and Jet Airways. But Jet’s opposition came down after its deal with Etihad, which has a number of A380s on order," an official said.