Lufthansa has been operating tonnes of repatriation flights from India to Munich and Frankfurt through the months, and with the recent signing of the air bubble agreement between India and Germany, had sold flights till October 20, 2020, originating from/arriving into India.
As per the air-bubble agreement signed between India and Germany, Indian and German carriers are permitted to operate services between India and Germany and carry the following categories of persons on such flights:
A. From India to Germany
- Indian nationals who are permitted to travel abroad as per MHA guidelines dated 01.07.2020 and destined for EU;
- Stranded EU nationals/residents, foreign nationals destined for Europe and transiting through Germany or spouses of these persons, whether accompanying or otherwise; and
- Seamen of foreign nationalities; Seamen holding Indian passports would be allowed subject to clearance from the Ministry of Shipping.
B. From Germany to India
- Stranded Indian nationals;
- Foreigners (including diplomats and OCI cardholders), who are eligible to enter India as per Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines dated 30.06.2020 as amended from time to time.
As per the air bubble agreement, hence, Indians with visitor visas as well can travel to Germany without any restrictions as long as their health is ok and if CoVid-19 test comes negative on arrival, you don’t even have to quarantine.
The conditions to arrive in Germany are:
- Are you travelling to Germany from a risk area? Then you have to present a negative corona test or go home – or to your destination – immediately after arrival and isolate yourself for two weeks (quarantine at home). And you have to report to your local health department immediately. The corona test result must not be more than 48 hours old.
- You can take the test in many countries before you leave for Germany or you can be tested after arriving in Germany. The test in Germany is free of charge for you. There are already test facilities at many airports in Germany. If the test is positive, a two-week quarantine is necessary in any case. It is important: Until the test result is available, you must adhere to the quarantine rules.
- During the quarantine, it is not allowed to leave the house or apartment and receive visitors. Violations of the quarantine rules can be very expensive!
- You can find out whether you have stayed in a risk area from this list from the RKI. Many countries outside Europe belong to the risk areas. (Note: India is one)
- Since August 8, 2020, tests have been mandatory for travellers from risk areas.
Lufthansa Cancels all flights to India.
Lufthansa has been operating the following flights to India under the air bubble agreement. Don’t look at the August dates, since the same schedule was sold for September and also for October 2020. As you can see, there were a lot of flights to fly to Germany, or for non-Indian passport holders to fly via Germany to other countries.
Today, Lufthansa has cancelled all these flights into India. This is the communication sent to all trade partners in India, blaming the cancellations on the Indian regulators.
The DGCA of India issued a clarification, stating that Germany was not keeping its end of the air bubble agreement by not opening up their borders to Indians.
— DGCA (@DGCAIndia) September 29, 2020
DGCA states that while Lufthansa was operating 20 flights a week (to&from Mumbai/Delhi/Bengaluru), Air India was only operating four flights a week (Delhi- Frankfurt from September 30 onwards). Owing to this, DGCA offered to have LH operate seven flights a week to India, which was not acceptable to Lufthansa.
Now I am not sure what is the bone of contention here where Air India was at a disadvantage. Was it that they were not being given enough slots at Frankfurt/Munich or was it that they did not get enough traction.
It is also imperative to note that Vistara has been very vocal of their plans to start flights to Frankfurt and Paris after opening up operations in London. However, no announcements have been forthcoming about when will be actualised.
Anyhow, the customers, as usual, get the short end of the stick. Many of them found their flights cancelled today, and got a very generic message.
This move affects a whole lot of people, including those who wanted to fly into India on these limited flights, and those who would have planned to fly, for instance to the USA, on these limited flights of India at the moment.
What do you make of these cancellations of Lufthansa flights and who do you think is the real victim here? Lufthansa or Air India?
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