Air India and IndiGo joined their global peers British Airways, Lion Air and Lufthansa in announcing temporary suspension of their China flights, as India clamped down on travel to stop the outbreak of coronavirus.
Air India said Mumbai-Delhi-Shanghai flight has been cancelled from January 31 to February 14, while IndiGo is suspending its Delhi-Chengdu and Bengaluru-Hong Kong flight from February 1-20. IndiGo, however, will continue to operate its Kolkata-Guangzhou flight. Air India has also decided to cut the frequency of its daily Delhi-Hong Kong flights to thrice per week from January 31 to February 14.
Bookings on the routes slumped in the last few days as businesspeople postponed their tours. The airlines saw a large number of cancellations impacting loads.
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In a statement, IndiGo said it has taken the decision after a careful assessment of the situation. “These are purely temporary and precautionary measures. We understand that the measures will cause inconvenience to our customers and we be refunding the full amount to impacted passengers.”
“For now we will continue to operate our Kolkata-Guangzhou flight which we are monitoring on a daily basis. As for our operating crew we are ensuring they return to India on inbound flights without any layover in China.”
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The two airlines have also advised their pilots and crew to take precautions while operating flights to East Asian destinations. Staff has been asked to wear masks and avoid public places during layovers in Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.
Air India crew, too, have been asked to wear masks on board flights to Southeast Asia. The airline is carrying extra masks which could be given to passengers.