Thursday, January 30, 2020

Coronavirus cloud over China flights

Calcutta: The scare triggered by a new strain of coronavirus has led to a dip in passenger count on flights to China, forcing airlines to suspend some flights from India to Chinese destinations and monitor the viability of the rest.

IndiGo airline has suspended its flights between Delhi and Chengdu and between Bangalore and Hong Kong from February 1.

The airline said on Wednesday that it was also closely monitoring the passenger count on its flights from Calcutta to Guangzhou, another Chinese city.

Air India said it was suspending its flights on the Delhi-Shanghai route from January 31 to February 14.

In Calcutta, tour operators said people were cancelling visits to China and alleged that some of the money-changers in the city were refusing to accept China’s currency notes, Chinese Yuan, fearing that there would be no takers.

“After carefully assessing the current coronavirus situation in China, IndiGo is taking some safety measures for its customers, crew and staff. Because of China travel restrictions, we have seen a high number of cancellations from China on our Delhi-Chengdu route and vice versa. Therefore, we are suspending our flights between Delhi and Chengdu from February 1 till February 20. We are also suspending our Bengaluru-Hong Kong flights from February 1,” an IndiGo spokesperson said.

“For now, we will continue to operate our Calcutta-Guangzhou flights, which we are monitoring on a daily basis. And for our operating crew, we are ensuring that they return to India on inbound flights without any layover in China,” the spokesperson said.

IndiGo sources said there was a sharp dip in the number of passengers to Guangzhou a few days back.

“The passenger count on some days was as low 20 or 40. But now it has started to pick up again,” a source said. The flight is operated with Airbus A320 aircraft with 180 seats.

One official said the flight was operated to bring back passengers from China.

China Eastern Airlines, which operates flights between Calcutta and Kunmin, has not suspended its operations.
30/01/20 Sanjay Mandal/Telegraph
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