Air India load on SE Asian cities drops due to Coronavirus

New Delhi, Feb 7 : The deadly Coronavirus has started taking heavy toll on travel sector with national carrier Air India seeing booking cancellation across various routes to the Southeast Asian cities such as Singapore, Bangkok and Seoul.

Faced with lower passenger load, the airline has replaced B787 with smaller A320 aircraft to serve Singapore.

"The passenger load has fallen on Southeast Asian routes.

There has been cancellation till April by both foreign groups coming to India as well as Indians going outside," Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani told IANS.

"This means our domestic flights also getting affected.

The Buddhist circuit traffic has been impacted," he added.

Air India operates about 40,000 seats on international routes with Southeast Asian sectors accounting for a little less than 10 per cent of the total.

In the wake of rising toll from coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan and infections spreading fast both inside China and outside, many airlines have suspended their flights to and from the virus-hit country.

Air India had earlier announced to suspend its flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong.

It has temporarily stopped taking bookings for these flights.

Another domestic carrier IndiGo has also suspended its flights to Chengdu in China and Hong Kong.

Travel industry insiders said that this holiday season has been the worst affected.

An executive said that almost all the Southeast Asian carriers have seen their flight occupancy declining.

"Those looking for cheap holiday destinations, Dubai is a better option.

Because of fear of Coronavirus, there has been massive cancellation," he said.

While Wuhan in China is the epicenter of novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), infections have been reported globally, especially in Southeast Asian countries.

The deadly virus has fast spread in China infecting more than 30,000 people. The death toll from the virus is estimated to have reached 600 in China.



Source: IANS