Bullish on Indian market, European airliner group Lufthansa plans to enhance bilateral ties with Jet Airways for increased connectivity to new cities and launch flight from Brussels to Mumbai next month.
Lufthansa Group, which operates 60 flights to and from India per week, has recently introduced the fuel-efficient A350-900 aircraft on Munich-Delhi route.
"We are also looking to intensify the bilateral relationship between Jet Airways and Lufthansa," Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG Carsten Spohr said on Wednesday.
Already, Lufthansa and Jet Airways operate code share flights on certain routes and this collaboration is likely to be expanded further.
Code share allows an airline to book its passengers for destination where it does not fly through a partner carrier.
Recently, the European major had expanded its partnership with Gulf carrier Etihad Airways — which is a strategic partner of Jet Airways.
All the three carriers have significant presence in the European market.
"We have some code share going with Jet Airways. We would like to intensify and may be enlarge our portfolio of code share... That means flights to second-tier cities which we are not operating directly could be destinations where we cooperate in terms of code share," Senior Director (South Asia) at Lufthansa Group Wolfgang Will said at a press meet.
He also noted code share has been a healthy component in their services.
Soon, Lufthansa would be introducing the A350-900 plane on Munich-Mumbai route apart from increasing the frequencies of its services between Pune and Frankfurt.
"The services between Brussels and Mumbai would start by end of March," he noted.
Besides, the group would be naming one of its big aircraft flying to India as 'Delhi'.
"This shows the importance of Delhi as a hub and India as a market to us," Spohr said.
Meanwhile, the Airbus 350-900 plane has been configured to seat 293 passengers, including 224 in Economy Class. This aircraft consumes 25 per cent less fuel, emits 25 per cent less carbon dioxide and generates 50 per cent less noise.
In the Asia-Pacific, Lufthansa Group flies to 18 destinations in eight countries, operating 249 weekly flights from this region to Europe.
Currently, Lufthansa Group accounts for about 15 per cent market share of traffic between India and Europe.
Vice-president (Sales Asia Pacific) at Lufthansa Group Dieter Vranckx said India is a heavily growing market and the country accounts for around 15-20 per cent share of total business done in the Asia-Pacific region.
The region includes Japan, China and Australia.
"In the business we do out of Asia Pacific, India accounts for 15-20 per cent.... (India is) heavily growing market," he noted.
There is a growing middle class and a "very open and supportive aviation environment", he added.
When asked about the national civil aviation policy, Vranckx said there are provisions which it looks at in a very positive way.
Responding to a query on Indian government's earlier proposal to auction unused bilateral rights, Will said they were surprised as they had not heard it before.
On whether the airline is in favour of having increased bilateral rights with respect to Indian market, Will said the group is comfortable with the current bilateral rights.
"There is at the moment no issue of limiting our growth in India," he added.
Meanwhile, officials said Lufthansa is bringing down the unit cost by 2-3 per cent every year and with increased efficiency, it would be able to offer better prices to customers.