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The smog in Delhi, which has thrown airline schedules out of gear, has also forced United Airlines to cancel two flights from Newark, US, to the national capital on Friday and Saturday. Earlier, the airline was offering waivers on rescheduling tickets. But poor air quality, declared as a health emergency, has prompted it to call off its services for now. “United has temporarily suspended Newark-Delhi flights due to poor air quality concerns in Delhi, and currently has waiver policies in place for customers who are travelling to, from, or through Delhi. We are monitoring advisories as the region remains under a public health emergency, and are coordinating with government agencies,” a United Airlines spokesperson said. The airline is also transferring affected passengers to other airlines. United operates a 267-seat Boeing 777 aircraft on the route. The journey time between Newark and Delhi is a little over 14 hours. On Friday, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) had expressed concerns that the smog would hit tourism in Delhi, with foreign tourists likely to skip the national capital in favour of cleaner destinations. “International tourists are quite particular about their health and safety. In the wake of such negative developments, Delhi is bound to drop off from the map of international tourists who will pick ‘cleaner’ South Asian destinations.
Even domestic tourists are avoiding Delhi,” Assocham said.The industry chamber interacted with 350 tour operators and based its findings on their feedback. There have, however, been no cancellations yet, claim tour operators. “The pollution has generated a lot of negative publicity for Delhi globally. However, there has been no cancellation in bookings,” said Dipak Deva, managing director of inbound tourism division, Thomas Cook group. Karan Anand, head, relationships, Cox & Kings, said “We are not seeing any cancellations from tourists at this point. Guests are arriving as per schedule and they move out of Delhi immediately and so there is no cause for concern.” Assocham, which interacted with 350 tour operators and based its findings on their feedback, said: “International tourists are quite particular about their health and safety. In the wake of such negative developments, Delhi is bound to drop off the map of international tourists, who might pick ‘cleaner’ South Asian destinations. Even domestic tourists are avoiding Delhi.”