The first Airbus A-380 planes would start flying in and out of India from May 30 with the Singapore Airlines (SIA) today becoming the first carrier to introduce daily superjumbo flights from Delhi and Mumbai.
The move comes barely four months after the government allowed operation of the world's largest aircraft late January at Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad airports which are capable of handling arrival and departure of large number of passengers in one go.
The SIA A-380s can fly 471 passengers in a three-class configuration of first class suites, business class and economy.
The superjumbos would operate daily to Mumbai and Delhi from May 30, taking over from two daily flights that currently serve each city using smaller Boeing 777s, SIA's General Manager (India) David Lau told reporters here.
He said another daily flight would continue to be operated with B-777s and in total, 14 flights would serve these cities per week.
"We have been keen to operate the Airbus A-380 to India and are glad that the Air Services Agreement (ASA) between Singapore and India now allows us to do so," he said. The prevailing bilateral ASA allows SIA to fly 6,000 seats per week from Delhi and Mumbai.
He said India was a particularly important market for SIA and "we are very pleased that more of our customers will soon be able to experience the spaciousness and comfort of the world's largest aircraft."
The Singaporean national carrier was the first airline in the world to operate the A-380 in October 2007 between Singapore and Sydney. The superjumbo now also serves Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo Narita and Zurich.
With the introduction of the A-380s, the SIA official said the Indian operations would be carried out by diverting these superjumbos from Australia. These planes on the India route would be replaced by new ones as soon as more of them are inducted.
SIA expected 13 per cent rise in passenger numbers from Delhi. Of the 6,000 seats allowed per week, the airline estimated to use about 5,800 from Delhi and Mumbai, he said.
From July, while the A-380s would continue to operate, Boeing 777s would be replaced by A-330s which would allow the airline to increase capacity by over 15 per cent, Lau said.
The aircraft would be "a solid value proposition for the (Indian) customers", a large chunk of whom