German flag carrier Lufthansa and its French and Chinese counterparts Air France and Air China today launched non-stop flights from Mumbai to Frankfurt, Paris and Beijing respectively.
While Air France and Air China will be flying the Boeing 777-200 to Paris and Airbus 330-300 to Beijing, Lufthansa will deploy a Boeing 747-800 on the Mumbai-Frankfurt route, the airport operator MIAL said in a statement.
Lufthansa and Air France will have their services daily, while Air China will operate on alternate days.
Ironically, the announcement comes on a day when the airport, one of the busiest in India, will be completely shut for five hours for nine days over runway repair work.
With Lufthansa deploying ‘Boeing 747-800’, the second biggest passenger jet in the world today, Mumbai airport will become the only one in the country to handle four Code-F flights. With this, the German carrier will also be offering First Class cabin for the first time.
Currently, Mumbai International Airport (MIAL) handles three Airbus 380s, the largest passenger aircraft in the world today, operated by Etihad, Emirates and Singapore Airlines.
With this, Lufthansa and Air France together will have daily capacity of more than 600 passengers on a single trip.
Air China, on the other hand, with a capacity of close to 300 passengers, will operate a non-stop flight to Beijing on alternate days.
That apart, Brussels Airlines and Air Canada have announced plans to launch operations from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) early next year, while RwandAir and Garuda Indonesia Airlines too are exploring flight options to Mumbai.
MIAL handles over 11 million international passengers in a year and close to 40 international airlines operate from the swanky Terminal 2.
According to International Air Transport Association (IATA), India is the fastest-growing aviation market in the world since last year, clipping a monthly growth of over 20 per cent. It will be the third largest market after China and the US by 2035, adding 322 million new passengers to take the total count to 442 million flyers by that year.
Globally, air travel demand will nearly double to 7.2 billion passengers from 3.8 billion in the next two decades, clipping at an annual compound average growth rate of 3.7 per cent, while India’s expansion has been over 20 per cent since last year.