Mumbai / Paris: Grounded by the volcanic ash cloud that has resulted in the closure of air space in Europe, Jet Airways (India) Ltd and state-owned Air India are re-routing flights to the US and Canada through Greece and Egypt even as Indian carriers are set to lose at least $15-20 million (Rs67-89 crore) for cancelling flights last week.
Jet Airways is re-routing flights through the Greek capital Athens as an alternative transit point through Europe to Newark in the US and Toronto in Canada, avoiding a stop-over at its regular hub Brussels. Air India, run by National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, is opting for Cairo as a refuelling stop to connect to the US, instead of a halt in the UK.
Kingfisher Airlines Ltd has cancelled its flights to London originating from Mumbai and Delhi.
“The losses accrue as airlines try to accommodate passengers in other airlines or offer passengers boarding and lodging,” said Mahantesh Sabarad, senior vice-president (equity research) at Fortune Equity Brokers (India) Ltd, who made the loss estimate above. “Airlines have to shell out more money if they re-route through new airports, in terms of route navigation costs. However, the losses could come down by $5 million since many stranded passengers will return by the same airline in future.”
In a statement on Monday, the aviation ministry said it had set up a control room to help passengers who have been stranded in India due to the disruption of most West-bound flights. According to information available with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, 41,435 passengers at Mumbai and Delhi airports have been affected, it said.
Meanwhile, the disruption has proved to be a boon for some businesses. Regus Plc, an office-space solutions provider, has seen a surge in requests for its 2,500 video communications suites across the globe; bookings in India are up by 20%, according to Madhusudan Thakur, head of Regus South Asia.