Lufthansa India operations crew-swap at Bahrain after UAE restrictions become strict(er)

With India battling a raging pandemic, countries worldwide have been keeping a close watch on India’s situation. At last count, at least 20+ countries had placed a ban on flights from India in some form or the other. However, other airlines have been determined to fill in the connectivity gap, and Lufthansa has been one of them.

Lufthansa switching crews mid-way to India

To ensure that Lufthansa does not leave any crew behind in India for a layover, who might get stuck or may get sick in India and then become a stress on the stretched resources of the country, Lufthansa came up with an innovative strategy, where they would swap the crew in Dubai before continuing to fly to India.

Lufthansa has substantial operations in India even now, operating ten weekly Indian flights at the moment from Frankfurt to Delhi (4x Weekly), Mumbai (3X Weekly) and Bangalore (3X Weekly).  The crew swap at Dubai allowed them to fly with three sets of crews, with one set of the crew operating between Dubai – India – Dubai, hence operating inside their duty limits.

Lufthansa New Livery

However, with recent UAE restrictions for travel between India and the UAE becoming stiffer, Lufthansa could not carry on the one-stop strategy with flights via Dubai, so they have now moved the flights from May 16, 2021 onwards to transit via Bahrain. The ground stop usually is between 45-50 minutes, and passengers remain on board. One set of the crew (cabin crew and cockpit crew) operates from Frankfurt to Bahrain; another set from Bahrain to Delhi/Mumbai/Bangalore and back to Bahrain; and a third set operates Bahrain to Frankfurt Boeing 747-8 flights. This adds additional time to the flights but allowed Lufthansa to take home their crew with them.

Per a statement from Lufthansa,

This change was made due to new UAE regulations that restrict flights between India and Dubai for passengers who were transiting there up to now for operational reasons.

Current entry rules in India enforce the need for an RT-PCR test on arrival in India. However, DGCA had approved operations last month where the crew does not alight from the plane, and the pilots remain on board in a sterile environment.

Bottomline

Lufthansa is operating flights to India with a stopover in Bahrain, at least till early June 2021. This stopover facilitates crew change so that no crew is left behind in India while operating their flights. The stop has added time to the flight, with a 45-50 minute halt being planned into the schedule at Bahrain Airport.

Have you travelled with Lufthansa to/from India recently? What has been your experience with the quick stop in the Middle East on Lufthansa India operations?


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