Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Singapore-bound Air India flight forced to leave with 10 onboard due to coronavirus scare

Thiruvananthapuram: A Singapore-bound Air India Express aircraft having a capacity to carry 183 passengers took off from Cochin International Airport (CIAL) on Saturday with just 10 passengers on board, showing a passenger load factor of less than 10 per cent.
The situation is not different for other private airlines operating between Far East destinations and Kerala. CIAL alone had over 50 weekly flight arrivals and departures from and to Far East destinations. And of course, the COVID-19 is to blame.
A senior officer attached to Air India Express said, “If the situation prevails, we would be forced to stop the service to Singapore for the time being. For an airline launched to cater to the burgeoning overseas Kerala diaspora, the drop in Singapore market is not that worrying, as their aircraft were chiefly pressed into services to cities in West Asia. However, the evolving situation in West Asia is disturbing as the virus is spreading its tentacles across the globe day by day.” Initial indications reveal that there would be massive cancellations and rescheduling in the summer, he said.
Biji Eapen, national president, IATA Agents Association of India, the airline sector will be in doldrums in the coming next two to three months.
Earlier, if the virus outbreak was chiefly limited to China, now it has crossed borders and become a global threat. If the Far East market was affected in the beginning, now it is the turn of the West Asian market. But this time, it would be more damaging for the airline sector as West Asia employs over 30 lakh Keralites.
02/03/20 Dhinesh Kallungal/New Indian Express
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