Home >News >India >Interest in air travel wanes on quarantine imposed by states
Karnataka, Assam and Maharashtra are among states that have mandated 14-day institutional quarantine for all incoming air passengers. (Photo: Mint)
Karnataka, Assam and Maharashtra are among states that have mandated 14-day institutional quarantine for all incoming air passengers. (Photo: Mint)

Interest in air travel wanes on quarantine imposed by states

  • Mix of institutional, home quarantine makes flyers chary about taking flights in the immediate future
  • Enquiries rose 4% for rescheduling or cancelling trips in states that have ordered quarantine

NEW DELHI : The surge in demand seen initially after the resumption of domestic flights may be tapering off, with quarantine measures announced by states keeping flyers away, industry executives said on Tuesday.

Several state governments, including Karnataka, Assam and Maharashtra, have mandated 14-day institutional quarantine for all incoming passengers, while some others were open to sharing time between institutional and home quarantine.

“We have seen a marginal increase of 4% in enquiries from travellers who wish to cancel or reschedule their trips, but only for states, which have imposed mandatory quarantine protocols," said Rajnish Kumar, co-founder of travel site Ixigo. The situation may improve “when there is more semblance of normalcy".

While initial travel bookings were strong as people were looking to head back home or to their jobs, most flyers were wary of the quarantine rules they may have to face.

“My brother-in-law, who took a Mumbai-Bengaluru flight yesterday with three other people for a business trip, was whisked into a separate car on landing and was put under 14-day quarantine. Unless there is a really urgent need, why would people travel under such circumstances," said an airline executive, requesting anonymity.

Alexandre de Juniac, director general and chief executive officer of International Air Transport Association, said during a conference call that quarantine measures will hamper airlines in resuming operations. “We think we should avoid. We suggest states should not put quarantine if they want air travel to restart," he said.

The government had allowed flights to resume if airports and airlines followed a set of precautions and observed social distancing norms.

A majority of Indians were, however, sceptical of travelling in the next 30 days despite the government opening up the skies for domestic travel, as the number of coronavirus cases are now averaging around 7,000 a day, according to a survey by community social media platform LocalCircles.

Only 21% of respondents said one or more members of their families may fly in the next 30 days, 10% said they had booked tickets, while 11% were likely to travel soon but had not booked the tickets yet.

The uncertainty around flight cancellations has further dented sentiments. Hundreds who reached the airport on the first day of flight resumption had to return home due to last-minute cancellations, as airlines scrambled to revise their schedules late on Sunday, with states restricting the number of flights that could take off or land.

According to EaseMyTrip.com, national carrier Air India received the maximum criticism for its inability to deal with the situation. The lack of a refund policy added to customers’ woes. An Air India spokesman said all airlines had to redraw schedules due to last-minute changes in general flight operations by certain states and, therefore, the national carrier alone could not be blamed.

Emailed queries to GoAir and Vistara did not elicit a response till press time.

India has been one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets, posting double-digit volume growth in the last few years. But travel demand is likely to ebb with the onset of the monsoon.

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