On 25th March 2020, a Lufthansa A380 aircraft departed at 12:45 pm CET as repatriation flight LH9912 from Frankfurt to Delhi. It arrived at around midnight at Indira Gandhi Airport in Delhi. The return flight, LH343 to Frankfurt, departed from Delhi at 1:30 am local time. It brought German citizens back home at a time when no international flights were operating to and from India and most air traffic worldwide had come to a halt.
“Carrying out repatriation flights and bringing people back home is the responsibility that Lufthansa Group airlines bear being part of the critical infrastructure in the home countries of Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Belgium said George Ettiyil.” For us being able to operate the repatriation flight with the A380, it was very helpful that Indian authorities decided to extend visas of foreigners in India last week.”
Since 14 March, Lufthansa Group airlines, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and Eurowings have flown about 220 special flights back to the home countries of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium, involving more than 40,000 holidaymakers. Over 70 further flights are already in preparation. Clients are and have been tour operators, cruise operators (mainly return flights from the Caribbean, Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and North Africa) and the German Federal Government (Federal Foreign Office). Wide-body aircraft, namely the Boeing 747, A380 and Airbus A350 are being used to provide as much capacity as possible on these return flights.
“These are challenging times for everyone – we are in this together with the Indian people,” said Ettiyil. “Together with them, we are looking forward to the day when regular travel will return to their country.”