Lufthansa pulling flight capacity from other countries to meet booming India demand

By Aditi Shah

HYDERABAD, India (Reuters) – Lufthansa is pulling flight capacity from other countries to meet booming travel demand in India, which is now the German airline’s fastest-growing major market, Chief Commercial Officer Heiko Reitz said on Thursday.Lufthansa’s flight capacity to India is 14% higher than pre-COVID levels, even as it has yet to see a full recovery in some other markets, Reitz told Reuters on the sidelines of the “Wings India” event in Hyderabad.

“India is growing faster than the rest of our other destinations. We are taking our capacity from other markets and putting it into India,” he added. Lufthansa Group, which includes Swiss Air, currently operates 64 weekly flights to India, up from 56 before the pandemic.

India is the world’s fifth-largest civil aviation market and domestic passenger traffic is expected to more than double to 350 million travellers by 2030, from 152 million in 2023, while the number of international travellers will grow to 160 million.

India’s airlines have placed record plane orders and the country’s total aircraft fleet is expected to increase to more than 2,000 by 2030 from around 700 currently.

The government is investing $12 billion in building new airports and refurbishing existing ones.

To tap into this growth, Lufthansa plans to bring back its Airbus A380 aircraft to India, a market where it will compete with a resurgent Air India, whose new owners Tata Group are investing billions of dollars to buy new planes and upgrade their services.

The government wants Indian airlines to buy more widebody planes and to fly to long haul international destinations as it looks to fulfil its ambition to be a regional aviation hub rivalling Dubai and Singapore.

When asked about competition, Reitz said with the kind of growth in India, “there is space for many airlines to grow in this market and find their¬†destinations”.

(Reporting by Aditi Shah, writing by Bansari Mayur Kamdar; Editing by Sharon Singleton)