Recently Lufthansa’s Boeing 747s have been stopping off in Dubai before heading east to India. Now, the airline has altered its flight schedule slightly, with planes instead stopping in Bahrain en-route to and from three Indian cities.
While it seems that the case number of COVID-19 patients in India is starting to drop, the country is still considered a COVID-19 risk by many other nations, mainly due to its variant of concern, B.1.617.2. This has led many airlines to alter their services to the country. Simple Flying recently reported that KLM, for example, has halved the length of its India layovers.
Lufthansa has rerouted its flights to India via Bahrain due to new flight restrictions implemented by the UAE government. According to India’s Deccan Herald, the change went into force on Sunday, with the first affected flight from Delhi returning today. A Lufthansa spokesperson told the publication,
“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.”
Flights between Frankfurt and Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore are all affected by the change. Flights are currently expected to go back to non-stop from June 2nd, although this will depend on the COVID-19 situation in the country. The new schedule for Delhi flights will look like this,
- LH760 – Frankfurt (FRA) 10:35 – Bahrain (BAH) 17:30 – Boeing 747 – 05h55m
- LH760 – Bahrain (BAH) 18:15 – Delhi (DEL) 00:55 +1 – Boeing 747 – 04h10m
- LH761 – Delhi (DEL) 02:50 – Bahrain (BAH) 04:40 – Boeing 747 – 04h20m
- LH761 – Bahrain (BAH) 05:50 – Frankfurt (FRA) 11:20 – Boeing 747 – 06h30m
For comparison, before the addition of the stopover en route, the jet would depart Frankfurt at 13:40 and arrive back at 07:40.
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Why is Lufthansa stopping at all?
You may be wondering why Lufthansa is even stopping en route to India at all. The answer lies in the amount of time that crew is allowed to operate. Typically, upon arrival in India, the aircraft’s crew would be swapped, with the outbound crew starting a layover and a different team bringing the flight back.
By adding the stop in Dubai, Lufthansa was able to change crews there. One single crew would then fly the aircraft from Dubai to India and back before another crew would take the plane back to Frankfurt. Another possible benefit is that the aircraft could refuel in Dubai and tanker enough fuel for the return flight. This would reduce the possibility of an unexpected delay in India.
As Lufthansa was not selling fifth freedom tickets for its flights stopping over in Dubai, all passengers brought in on the aircraft would immediately leave. It seems as though aircrew who have mixed with Indian passengers are also now restricted from entering the city for a layover.
What do you make of the relocation of Lufthansa’s Middle East India stopover? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!