Singapore Airlines’ decision to become the first operator to use Airbus A380 aircraft on Indian routes is likely to be followed by several other A380 operators serving this giant market.

From 30 May, SIA will fly twice daily on the Singapore-New Delhi and Singapore-Mumbai routes, down from three now, all operated with Boeing 777 aircraft. After the change, SIA will operate one A380 service to each city daily, and one 777 service.

SIA’s A380 move follows New Delhi’s recent decision to allow the type to serve four cities: Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad.

According to FlightMaps Analytics, several of the world’s biggest A380 operators deploy significant widebody capacity into these cities using 777s, 747s, and A330s. If they follow SIA’s lead, they could boost capacity to key Indian cities by upguaging to the A380, thus providing valuable feeder traffic to hubs in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe.

In April, carriers operating widebodies provided 40,000 seats between Singapore and Mumbai, and 26,000 between Singapore and New Delhi. This is considerably below widebody capacity on Dubai-Mumbai (49,000), London-Mumbai (47,000), London-New Delhi (47,000), and Dubai-New Delhi (40,000).

Of operators serving India’s four A380-approved cities with widebodies, Emirates is the leader with 135,000 seats (32.1% of overall capacity) on routes from Dubai. On a monthly basis, it provides 49,000 seats to Mumbai alone, of which 93 flights use 777s, and 62 use A330s.

As for Dubai-New Delhi, Emirates provided 40,000 seats in March, with 93 flights using 777s and 62 using A330s.

A330, 777, 747 capacity by A380 operators into A380-approved cities - March 2014

Widebody capacity into India by A380 operators

FlightMaps Analytics

Lufthansa has long indicated that it would like to replace its 747s with A380s on its services to India. In March it operated 93 services to A380-approved cities, with a daily frequency to three destinations: Mumbai, Bengaluru, and New Delhi.

British Airways could also see a compelling case for operating the A380 to India. In March, it operated 50,000 seats to Indian destinations from Heathrow. A full 147 of the 155 frequencies it operated to three A380-approved destinations (New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru) were operated with 747-400s, with the remaining eight operated by 777s.

Widebody flights by A380 operators to A380-approved cities

A380 operators with routes to India

FlightMaps Analytics

In late February Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways parent IAG, said the company was experiencing “significant reduction of seat costs” with the A380 compared with its 747s, while also enjoying superior slot flexibility.

India is a promising destination for A380s serving overseas hubs, especially given that New Delhi has effectively outsourced the country’s international hubs to big airports in the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia.

Source: Cirium Dashboard