Flight reductions begin as India's visa suspension begins today

NEW DELHI: International airlines have begun cutting flights to India after the country suspended most existing visas until April 15, 2020, to prevent the spread. Air India has also reduced the frequency of its flights to Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt and Tel Aviv Qatar Airways, Finnair, Delta and Cathay Pacific were among the foreign airlines that announced flight cuts to India on Thursday. Airline bosses are calling COVID-19 the biggest aviation crisis ever faced that seriously threatens the survival of many airlines.

With Qatar Kuwait , Saudi Arabia also restricts travel, and Thailand, Sri Lanka stop the visa on arrival, large Indian airlines such as and Air India may have to park some planes until things improve. Domestic travel also decreased by 15-20%.

Sabina Chopra, co-founder and COO of travel portal Yatra, said there has been a massive impact on the travel industry. ... the visa suspension is expected to have a substantial impact on the arrival of foreign tourists who have already witnessed a fall due to the prevailing situation. We have received nearly 35% of cancellation inquiries from travelers planning trips abroad ... air fares have decreased by 40% to affected destinations. There has been an approximately 18% drop in hotel rates and we are receiving cancellation requests from several travelers who are wary of taking trips nationwide as well, ”said Chopra.

Both the Indian airline and the hotel industry hope that the government's move to limit foreign arrivals for a month will help control the spread of the coronavirus here and at least boost domestic travel. Group CEO Rajesh Magow said: The government's decision to cancel all visas, with a few exceptions, is timely at this time to control the spread of COVID-19 ... The decision will have an impact on incoming international travel. and outgoing ... we are seeing a slowdown in demand for the upcoming summer vacation season, especially for international travel.

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific said Thursday that it is further aligning capacity across the network, including to and from India. We will operate eight flights from Mumbai and Delhi instead of 49 (weekly) flights in our six ports until April 30, 2020. Starting March 18, we will temporarily suspend our operations from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. Earlier this month, we also suspended our flights to Kolkata.

Qatar Airways said that while continuing flights to 13 Indian cities, it is reducing services from March 11 to three locations. Doha-Kozhikode-Doha and Doha-Trivandrum-Doha have been reduced from three to four times a week each day, respectively. The frequency of Doha-Kochi-Doha has been reduced from 11 to seven times per week.

The major US Delta, which has reduced system-wide capacity by 15%, said its JFK-Mumbai in New York will drop from five times a week to four from April to October.

Finnair's website says: “The Indian authorities have updated their visa requirements. We are canceling flights to Delhi from March 15 to April 14. We apologize for any inconvenience these changes may cause ... We will operate flights before March 15th to transport returning customers.

Lufthansa Group He said he is evaluating the impact of changes in the entry regulations to India.

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