Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Flyers deferring leisure trips but cancellations not high

New Delhi:  Delta delayed the wedding of Mayank and Khushi Bansal (names changed on request) from March to last week. And now Omicron has forced this Delhi-based couple to defer their dream honeymoon in Switzerland indefinitely. “Several Schengen states are witnessing an upsurge in cases. Also, we don’t want to fly back to IGIA and spend hours there with thousands of other passengers for our on-arrival RT-PCR test,” said Mayank on Monday — ironically the day Switzerland, that accepts Covaxin and is a big magnet for desi travellers, got an air bubble with India allowing direct flights between the two countries for the first time since last March.

The Bansals are not alone. Stricter testing and quarantine norms globally following the latest mutant has led to many deferring their non-essential travel plans to and from India. Given the fact that regular international flights had not yet opened and only those with a real reason to travel had booked the few super expensive bubble options, cancellations are still not high as the world is watching with bated breath the real impact of Omicron. Essential travel is still happening.

Travel Agent Federation of India joint secretary Anil Kalsi said: “No major change (cancellation) is being noticed as seat availability is nearly non existent. Avoidable business travel, which was anyway low, is being cancelled. Many leisure travellers supposed to go to Maldives this winter are rescheduling to March and April as refunds are not possible.”

A Lufthansa spokesperson said: “Our flight capacities under the bubble system cover the most essential travel demand to and from India. Lufthansa bookings remains stable, flights are full. This clearly shows the continued trust people have in aviation as the safest way to travel.”

Thomas Cook India MD Madhavan Menon said: “We are seeing rescheduling, not cancellations. Due to very high international airfares (under bubbles) and EU being one of our primary (source) markets, there was no real inbound anyway.”

Regarding domestic travel, a top official of an Indian carrier said: “Advance bookings for travel beyond 15 or 30 days has dipped by 10-15%. We are not seeing a spurt in cancellations due to Omicron as of now.”

07/12/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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