NEW DELHI: Lufthansa’s flights between India and Germany will now take a stopover in Dubai both ways for a crew change. The German major has taken this step to ensure its pilots and cabin crew operating the 10 weekly return flights to India do not require a layover in the Covid-ravaged metros here. One set of crew will operate from Frankfurt to Dubai; another set from Dubai to Delhi/Mumbai/Bengaluru and back to Dubai and then a third set will operate the aircraft — a Boeing 747-8 these days — back to Germany, say sources.
As a result, the about 7-hour journey between Frankfurt and Delhi/Mumbai will now take over 9 hours. And the 11-hour flight between Frankfurt and Bengaluru will take about 13 hours now. Passengers will remain seated inside the aircraft during crew change. For this duration flight, a B-747 has 2-3 pilots and over 15 cabin crew.
Aviation sources in Dubai said: “When the Lufthansa crew operates flights from Germany, they can stay in a city hotel for a layover in Dubai. When the crew returns after operating a flight to and from India, the world’s worst Covid hotspot at the moment, they will have to stay in transit inside Dubai Airport and fly from there itself to Frankfurt later on without going to the city.”
Lufthansa will be operating quick turnaround flights from India. The crew will stay inside the aircraft while in Delhi/Mumbai/Bengaluru and fly back to Dubai. Indian aviation ministry has been getting requests from several airlines to exempt pilots operating international flights from RT-PCR tests, which is not allowed as per current norms here. However, it made an exception for crew of QTA international flights who do not alight from aircraft.
“Considering that cockpit crew remain within aircraft in a sterile environment of the flight deck and the cabin crew are protected by PPE, these crew operating international QTA flights are exempted from RT-PCR test on arrival at Indian airports,” says an order issued by the aviation ministry last month.
Lufthansa currently operates 10 weekly flights between Frankfurt and Delhi (4), Mumbai (3) and Bengaluru (3).