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Coronavirus crisis: Airlines, travel agencies hit

Air carriers reporting a 50 per cent no-show, 90 per cent cancellation of tickets to Southeast Asia. 

Published: 04th March 2020 10:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th March 2020 10:27 AM   |  A+A-

people walk around in masks in Hyderabad on Tuesday | Vinay Madapu

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Air travel is witnessing a massive slump as the number of Coronavirus patients across the world continues to go up. Travel agencies in the city have also been hit by the epidemic. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), most air carriers are reporting a 50 per cent no-show in several markets.

Speaking to Express, a spokesperson from Air India, said, “The flight to Jeddah is the only international one that the Air India operates from Hyderabad. Now that the Saudi Arabian government has temporarily barred passengers from India, we are not carrying anyone to Jeddah. The aircraft and its route are still functional as we must bring back the people who had booked return tickets from Jeddah.”

A well-placed source from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) said, “Coronavirus has massively affected the business. For example, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific has almost been grounded and most of their routes have been suspended after the virus-outbreak in China.”

The source added that the RGIA has five weekly flights of Cathay Pacific to and from Hong Kong. “They are practically running empty currently,” the source said.

Speaking to Express, an official from the travel agency Columbus Vacations Pvt Ltd, said, “We have seen a 90-95 per cent cancellation of flight tickets and tour packages to countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Many passengers are also planning on postponing their visa interviews for countries like France.”

The IATA is contacting aviation regulators worldwide, urging them to suspend the rules governing use of airport slots immediately. Around 43 per cent of all passengers depart from over 200 slot-coordinated airports worldwide.

The IATA stated, “Future bookings are softening and carriers are reacting with stringent measures, ranging from their crew members being given unpaid leave to making plans for grounding their aircraft.”

No impact on Metro footfall yet,says HMRL MD
Hyderabad: HMRL on Tuesday counselled all Metro employees regarding preventive measures for Coronavirus. Speaking to the media, NVS Reddy Managing Director of HMRL, said that the Metro stations would be cleaned only after operational hours when the passengers are no longer present. “We are keeping a close watch on the situation. Health Minister Eatala Rajendar and MAUD Minister KT Rama Rao are monitoring the situation. So far, there’s been no impact on ridership. The ridership has been normal, just like it’s been on any other working day,” Reddy added

RGIA hands out self-declaration forms to travellers
The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) has begun handing out self-declaration forms, in addition to screening all the passengers visiting the airport.

The passengers are asked to declare their health status and travel history in these forms.

The thermal screening at the airport, meanwhile, checks for passengers with high-temperature levels.

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