Monday, March 16, 2020

Coronavirus spread clips wings of airlines

Airlines continue to cancel flights and bear financial losses as the novel coronavirus spreads across India and abroad. According to official data, over 600 international flights to and from India were cancelled in the last one month alone. The number of cancellations, according to estimates of the government and airlines trying to take action against the spread of the virus, is expected to rise even more.

India has already announced the suspension of visas — except for a few categories such as diplomatic and employment-related — till April 15, after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. National carrier Air India has cancelled all flights to Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Israel, South Korea and Sri Lanka till April 30.
Moreover, domestic travellers are also being cautious than ever before. India’s largest carrier IndiGo recently said that it has seen 15-20 per cent decline in daily bookings on a week-on-week basis, due to the pandemic situation. On a weekly basis, IndiGo has been cancelling 42 flights. The airline has said that it foresees a weak quarter due to the impact of coronavirus, coupled with the depreciation in rupee value.

“The aviation sector is under a lot of pressure. But this is temporary, we have been here before,” said SpiceJet’s owner Ajay Singh in a statement issued last Thursday. SpiceJet had cancelled 23 flights. Besides cancellations, the airlines are waiving off flight rescheduling and cancellation fees, which puts further pressure on their balance sheets. IndiGo has announced that it will waive off all flight rescheduling fees for bookings until the end of March, while Vistara said it has waived cancellation charges for domestic tickets booked on or before March 1 and international tickets booked on or before March 12.
16/03/20 New Indian Express
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