India’s move to cancel foreign flights will lead to cancellation of 700 flights a week
As India closes itself for all international flights till end of March and starting early morning on Monday, the period will see the cancellation of about 700 flights a week, including both foreign and Indian carriers. The impact will, however, be felt more by foreign airlines, as Indian carriers had already cancelled a large number of flights to international destinations.
The government on Thursday said no scheduled international commercial passenger aircraft will be allowed to land in India from March 22 for one week. The ban is only on commercial passenger aircraft and not on aeroplanes carrying freight.
“With this order, about 100 international flights daily which are being operated as on date will be cancelled,” said a senior government official, who did not want to be identified.
Prior to the Covid-19 virus outbreak, which has led to the cancellation of various flights across the globe, India used to receive about 300 international flights daily.
This has now reduced to 100 after India banned the entry of people from 31 countries in Europe and the United Kingdom early this week.
Till last week, airlines from the United States, Australia, Singapore, UAE, Qatar, Japan, and the UK are operating flights. Flights from the UK were not bringing in any passengers as India had banned their entry, but they were ferrying flyers back to the UK.
A senior executive of a foreign carrier had said that about 25 airlines were still operating flights into the country, and that all would cease to operate starting Sunday.
British Airways, Virgin, Delta, United, Singapore Airlines, Cathay, Japan, Ethiopian, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and airlines from CIS countries fly into the country.
“These flights will be cancelled from Sunday and airlines will offer a full refund to passengers booked on flights on these dates or offer them an alternative – of flying at a later date,” said a top executive of a foreign airline who did not wish to be identified.
An executive of a cargo airline said that the cancellation will impact cargo capacity into the country.
Freighter aircraft would be allowed, but more than 30% of express cargo comes in the belly-hold of passenger aircraft. So, there will definitely be an impact. Having said that, this was the need of the hour,” R S Subramanian, senior vice president and managing director said.
The Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance is assessing how much of the industry’s “medicine consignment” comes from commercial and cargo airlines.
Annaswamy Vaidheesh, Managing Director of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals told ET that the company would seek clarity on how to fly down emergency pharma goods into the country.
All Indian carriers have cancelled international flights.