Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Coronavirus crisis: Airlines, travel agencies hit

Hyderabad: Air travel is witnessing a massive slump as the number of Coronavirus patients across the world continues to go up. Travel agencies in the city have also been hit by the epidemic. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), most air carriers are reporting a 50 per cent no-show in several markets.

Speaking to Express, a spokesperson from Air India, said, “The flight to Jeddah is the only international one that the Air India operates from Hyderabad. Now that the Saudi Arabian government has temporarily barred passengers from India, we are not carrying anyone to Jeddah. The aircraft and its route are still functional as we must bring back the people who had booked return tickets from Jeddah.”

A well-placed source from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) said, “Coronavirus has massively affected the business. For example, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific has almost been grounded and most of their routes have been suspended after the virus-outbreak in China.”

The source added that the RGIA has five weekly flights of Cathay Pacific to and from Hong Kong. “They are practically running empty currently,” the source said.

Speaking to Express, an official from the travel agency Columbus Vacations Pvt Ltd, said, “We have seen a 90-95 per cent cancellation of flight tickets and tour packages to countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Many passengers are also planning on postponing their visa interviews for countries like France.”

The IATA is contacting aviation regulators worldwide, urging them to suspend the rules governing use of airport slots immediately. Around 43 per cent of all passengers depart from over 200 slot-coordinated airports worldwide.
04/03/20  Oishani Mojumder/New Indian Express
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