Monday, March 09, 2020

Coronavirus impact: Qatar ban a big blow for Indian airlines

Qatar and Kuwait banning travel from India will have a major dent on Indian airlines, for which both the countries are important markets.
The ban from flying especially to Qatar will be a major setback as the country's capital Doha is among the top five destinations for Indians traveling overseas.

Most of the airlines, including Air India, IndiGo and SpiceJet, either operate flights to Doha and have had plans to further expand operations to the important Middle-East destination.

On March 9, in a precautionary step against the spread of coronavirus, Qatar announced a travel ban on 14 countries, including China, Iran, Iraq, South Korea and India. The ban came two days after a similar step by Kuwait, which had imposed the restriction on seven countries.
"A further blow to all Indian airlines flying to Qatar," said an industry veteran who goes by the Twitter handle Skipper@<FlyingMariner.

Qatar has till now confirmed 12 cases. India till now has reported 43.
Nevertheless, the ban will be a big blow for Indian carriers which, despite curtailing services to Singapore and Thailand, were not as adversely impacted from the virus as their peers in other countries until now.

While the domestic airlines were forced to cancel flights to Singapore and Thailand, adding Qatar to the list would make a huge dent.

Every quarter, about a million passengers fly between Doha and Indian cities. Only, UAE, Thailand and Singapore have busier routes than Doha. Almost seven lakh Indians live in Doha.

While relatively smaller, Kuwait ,too, is a popular destination with over three lakh passengers flying between the country and Indian cities in a quarter.
09/03/20 Prince Mathews Thomas/Moneycontrol
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