NEW DELHI: A disagreement between India and Germany on the issue of flights to be operated under the air bubble of the two countries has led Lufthansa has cancelled all its planned India flights that were to operate from Wednesday (Sept 30) to October 20. The mega airline says the cancellations are due to the “unexpected rejection of (its) planned flight schedule for October by Indian authorities” and that “India has so far not accepted the invitation by the German government to discuss details regarding a temporary travel agreement between both countries.”
A senior Indian official said the pandemic time arrangement of air bubbles, that allow nationals of both countries to travel in either direction, was finalised with Germany this July. “However, there are restrictions in place for Indian nationals desiring to travel to Germany which was putting Indian carriers at a significant disadvantage resulting in inequitable distribution of traffic in favour of Lufthansa. As against Indian carriers operating 3-4 flights a week, Lufthansa operated 20 flights a week. In spite of this disparity we offered to clear 7 flights a week for Lufthansa which was not accepted by them. Negotiations continue,” the senior Indian official said.

In a statement, Lufthansa said: “Lufthansa had originally scheduled flights for October in order to continue connecting Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore with Europe and other regions in Lufthansa’s worldwide network. The October schedule would also have seen the addition of flights to and from Chennai.”
Lufthansa says it had applied for nod continue special flights till September-end. “This application process is necessary since India has so far not accepted the invitation by the German government to discuss details regarding a temporary travel agreement between both countries. Lufthansa sincerely urges Indian authorities to work together with the German government to establish (the same)… necessary to address the urgent need of tens of thousands of Indians and foreign nationals for travel to and from India and would also help balance the interests of both countries’ airlines,” Lufthansa said.
France and Germany are among the countries with which India has created air bubbles for travel during the pandemic. Under these bubbles, airlines of India and the other country are allowed to fly people between the countries only point to point. In the case of Air France and Lufthansa, Indian citizens can travel between India and EU on these airlines. Recently India had asked all airlines operating under air bubble to abide by the rules of this special arrangement as some airlines, especially the European ones, were found to be offering to fly Indian citizens beyond the scope of the bubble rules.
Lufthansa added that the “October flight schedule would essentially have been an extension of the already limited number of flights between India and Germany that Lufthansa has been reintroducing to the Indian market since June…. As visa issuance is restarting and demand for flights to and from India is increasing, it is regrettable that Lufthansa is currently being unnecessarily restricted in its ability to serve its loyal Indian customers and enable their desired travel.”
“Lufthansa has been and always will be deeply committed to the Indian market and its customers. Once Indian authorities agree on talks with the German government to establish a temporary travel agreement, Lufthansa is set to continue serving the Indian people in these unprecedented times as it has done for decades: by offering safe travel to and from Germany and other countries worldwide,” it added.

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