Lufthansa resumes Kolkata-Frankfurt flight after 35 years
Transit passengers to US form majority of Lufthansa's users.
BY OUR AVIATION CORRESPONDENT
December 17, 2006
German airlines Lufthansa has resumes services to Kolkata from December 2, after 35 years of suspending the service, with three flights per week. The flights would operate between the German capital of Frankfurt and the east-Indian city of Kolkata.
The decision to revive the flights after a three-and-a-half decade lull is the outcome of a meeting between West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Lufthansa's General Manager (Passenger Sales India) and Director South East Asia Werner Heesen.
The inaugural flight landed Nataji Subash Chandra Bose international airport with 215 passengers, including a high-level business delegation comprising German businessmen and politicians.
Lufthansa withdrew its flights in 1971 citing security concerns as the state was facing extremist threats.
The company's passengers from India consists mainly transit passengers to US. The passengers fly Lufthansa or other carriers to London, and take connection flights to New York, Washington or Seattle . However, strict security measures in London following the serial bomb blasts is causing unnecessary hassles to passengers travelling in and out of Heathrow airport.
Now these passengers will fly to Frankfurt and from there to the US destinations.
Lufthansa has resumed its operation from Kolkata after a gap of 35 years, with the first flight from Frankfurt reaching the city early morning on Saturday. Lufthansa had stopped its flights in 1971 on security grounds owing to the Naxalite agitation in the State.
This is the sixth city on the carrier's India network, and the new route is significant as the state is emerging as a major destination for IT and food processing. At present, Lufthansa operates to destinations like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad .
The airline will operate a 235-seater non-stop Airbus A340-300 between Frankfurt and Kolkata with a three-class configuration. The frequency of the services could be increased, depending on the rise in traffic, as the carrier has received permission to operate 50 flights a week under the new Indo-German Air Traffic Agreement.
Lufthansa would levy Rs 19,500 (excluding taxes) for a two-way ticket. The flight would have special in-flight innovations like access to high-speed wireless Internet, Bengali food and the touch of Indian culture.
The carrier now has 45 weekly flights from the country. India is also the sixth country serviced by the carrier in the Asia Pacific region.
The carrier is also planning to operate at least 10 routes from India in the next couple of years. The country ranks number two position in terms of revenues from Asia Pacific region for the Lufthansa group, while Japan tops the slot.
Japan contributes 40 per cent to the total revenue, while India 18 per cent and China ranks third. Lufthansa gets 20 per cent of its total globally revenues from Asia Pacific.