India-US aviation doing well despite recession

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Mumbai, Sep 28 | Updated: Sep 30 2008, 04:22am hrs
Despite the US recession hitting the aviation sector globally, German carrier Lufthansa is upbeat about its India operations. Axel Hilgers, the new director, South Asia at Lufthansa said India is a very important destination for the airline which was the first European carrier to enter the Indian skies over forty years ago. Indian aviation sector is poised for growth and it is a challenge to maintain our growth in terms of passenger volumes when there are other carriers also operating in and out of India.

He further said the airline serves seven Indian destinations which offers it healthy load factors and their latest addition of six flights from Pune to Frankfurt is doing well.

Meanwhile, Werner Heseen, who just retired as director, South Asia, Lufthansa told FE , Though leisure travel has come down on the India-US sector due to the recession, our passenger load factor remains healthy.

He further explained the reason for this, despite traffic slowing down on the sector. We have a hopping flight on the India-US sector which halts at any European destination. Our seats get filled at the European halt by passengers who want to travel from Europe to the US. Hence, our business is not affected, said Heseen.

To woo Indian passengers, the airline has employed close to 200 Indian flight attendants to cater specifically to their needs. The airline provides Indian cuisine, including pure vegetarian meals, as an exclusive option on all its India routes.

Also, to boost its India operations, Lufthansa is also promoting the Incredible India campaign on-board. It may be noted that the tourism ministry had recently urged the international carriers to promote India as a tourist destination in whichever way they can. We are promoting India as a leisure destination and in return, we have got more traffic rights into India, says Heseen.

He adds that currently the airlines also offers scheduled freighter services to New Delhi , Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata.