Airbus superjumbo will be a boon for limited capacity Mumbai airport: Experts

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 29 Januari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Unlike the Airbus 380, all passenger aircraft that were game-changers, such as the Boeing 747 jumbo jet or the Concorde, looked elegant from any angle. The A380, on lateral view, appears short and stocky. The first reaction the aircraft's double-deck, heavy fuselage elicits is disbelief: there is no way the behemoth can lift off, let alone fly non-stop for over 16 hours. It may be strange looking, but aviation specialists say the A380 can bring respite to the congested, land-starved Mumbai airport.

On Monday, the ministry of civil aviation allowed foreign airlines to launch commercial A380 flight operations in India. Aviation sources said Mumbai airport is likely to be the first to handle the aircraft. A foreign airline has had a meeting with the airport's operators in this regard.

"The A380 is the world's most fuel-efficient aircraft in service. It has the lowest operating cost per seat and the highest revenue generating potential, which benefits airlines and the travelling public," said Kiran Rao, executive vice-president of strategy and marketing for Airbus.

Capt G R Gopinath, founder of the now-defunct Air Deccan, India's first low-cost airline, said, "If an airline puts only economy seats all throughout the A380, it can ferry 853 passengers. The Rajdhani Express, on the other hand, carries only 750."

In 2007, Deccan had done a cost analysis and found that with an all-economy class A380, airlines can offer a uniform fare of Rs 2,200 on the Bangalore-Delhi route. "This aircraft has the potential to completely transform Indian aviation," Gopinath said.

Amber Dubey of global consultancy KPMG said, "The only way Mumbai can improve capacity is by encouraging large aircraft like the A380."

The problem with Mumbai airport is that unlike other major airports that service metro cities the world over, it cannot have parallel runways because of land constraints. With its cross runways, it can at best handle only 50 landings or take-offs per hour. Thus, A380s can increase Mumbai airport's efficiency.

"A day might come when we may see 800-seater full economy A-380s operating between the key metros of India," said Dubey. "Many airlines use A380s for flights that are as short as two or three hours. China Southern flies A380s on the Guangzhou-Shanghai and Guangzhou-Beijing routes; Thai, Bangkok-Hong Kong; Emirates, Dubai-Jeddah; Qantas, Sydney-Auckland."

It was in May 2007 that the A380 first flew to India. The Toulouse-based Airbus brought the superjumbo and operated it on the Delhi-Mumbai route. In the immediate future, Emirates and Singapore Airlines may operate some of their Indian flights with the A380.

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