Cancellations spike, bookings drop as states limit air ops (IANS Exclusive)


New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) A massive spike in ticket cancellations, along with a drop in bookings, was reported by the aviation industry for Monday’s flights as several states moved to limit air operations.

Air services to and from Kolkata will commence on Thursday, May 28 with 10 arrivals and 10 departures per day, said sources.

The Bagdogra airport near Siliguri in West Bengal also would adhere to the same routine as Kolkata starting May 28.

However, Mumbai airport will resume services on Monday, May 25, but with a cap on services at 25 daily arrivals and 25 departures.

In other parts of Maharashtra, the state government has allowed one-third of daily arrivals and departures, which were planned as per the ‘Summer Schedule’ for 2020, starting Monday.

Flights to Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada and Vizag airports would resume from Tuesday, May 26 with 20 per cent of both arrivals and departures as planned under the Summer Schedule.

On the other hand, Hyderabad will resume services on Monday with 15 arrivals and 15 departures.

Consequently, passengers, who had booked for flights on these and other intra-metro route segment for May 25, rushed to cancel their tickets.

Notably impacted was the Delhi-Mumbai trunk route followed by flights to Bengaluru and Kolkata.

Industry insiders pointed out that majority of bookings received were for flights between metro cities, due to the “pent-up demand”, but now with limited operations and quarantine norms, a large number of queries have been received from passengers travelling to these cities.

Even airline executives were left in lurch as state after state came out with new norms for accepting flights, thereby, distorting their network planning.

Another daunting confusion was over the quarantine norm which many states said they will enforce on air travellers.

This led to a cascade of calls at the customer care centres of online travel agents.

Nevertheless, many passengers still wanted to travel, if they were provided with a choice for ‘Home Quarantine’.

Except for intra-metro routes, the total cancellations would have come to only about 15 per cent of the entire network, industry insiders told IANS.

In terms of bookings a sharp drop of over 50 per cent was witnessed on Sunday on a daily sequential basis.

“All the passengers booking flights currently are travelling for their essential needs and multiple changes in the directives by individual states have left them utterly disappointed. Now with operation of only a fraction of earlier approved flights has caused a spike in cancellations and the passengers are once again left high and dry by the government,” Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-Founder of, told IANS.

“In addition, to the continued uncertainty in their travel plan, more money will be blocked with the airlines.”

Aloke Bajpai, CEO & Co-Founder, ixigo, said: “There is some apprehension amongst travellers with the constantly evolving state specific quarantine protocols.”

“There might be a slight increase in cancellation or reschedule requests from travellers in the coming few days specifically for states that are not allowing air travel to resume starting tomorrow. We hope the state governments can take a more pragmatic and compassionate view of the situation given a vast majority of bookers are going back to their homes or travelling for essential or emergency reasons.”

On its part, the Centre has urged the state governments not to implement quarantine norms since inter-state transportation services is allowed under the provisions of lockdown 4.0.

During an online question and answer session on Saturday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said: “In a receiving state, if an incoming passenger has ‘Aarogya Setu’ app, and if he or she is green, why would the receiving state want to quarantine them after that.”

“Its not that if you don’t have an Aarogya Setu app, you will not be allowed to travel. We have said it is advisory, it is preferable… If you dont have Aarogya Setu you can give a self-declaration, if you dont have an app… If somebody has symptoms they will be stopped at the airport. Why would any state want to quarantine somebody after these facts.”

Earlier, air passengers gave an overwhelming response to the re-commencement of passenger flight services from May 25, as healthy demand was witnessed for tickets on all metro routes.

The Centre had only allowed limited passenger flight operations of about one-third capacity of the summer schedule to operate between metro cities and other destinations from May 25, adding that this capacity might be ramped up in the coming period.

Passenger air services were suspended for both scheduled domestic and international flights since March 25, due to the imposition of the nationwide lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.



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