EXCLUSIVE - Lufthansa to begin Airbus A380 flights to India in 2014
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The head of Lufthansa said the German airline plans to begin flying Airbus(AIR.PA) A380 superjumbo jets on routes to India later this year.
On Monday, India lifted a ban on landing the aircraft in the country, enabling carriers such as Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Emirates airline to fly the jets into the world's second-most populous nation.
Lufthansa had earlier said it had no immediate plans to use the jet on those routes.
"We are interested to use the A380 also for the major Indian markets," Christoph Franz, CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHAG.DE), said on Wednesday in an interview in the Reuters Global Markets Forum, an online community for financial professionals.
Franz said Lufthansa definitely planned to use the jet in India but noted the launch would be later in the year, since its fleet of 10 A380s is already committed by current schedules.
He said it was possible for the summer schedule, but added, "We will likely make it for the winter flight schedule of 2014-2015".
Under India's rules, A380s will be allowed to land at the country's four main airports - New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad - which are equipped to handle the planes.
India's decision was welcomed by foreign carriers aiming to tap India's fast-growing air travel sector.
The A380 can carry more than 800 passengers in a single-class configuration, and the government had banned their use because of concern that foreign airlines would dominate the market for international travel.
(Reporting by Alwyn Scott, additional reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Ken Wills)
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