New Delhi: Indian passenger carriers Air India and IndiGo on Wednesday said that they will suspend some flight services to mainland China and Hong Kong owing to the outbreak of Coronavirus.
Accordingly, IndiGo will suspend two of its flight services to China, including Hong Kong, from February 1.
Currently, IndiGo operates four services to China and one to Hong Kong. IndiGo’s flights connect New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore to destinations in China and Hong Kong.
“Due to China travel restrictions, we have seen a high number of cancellations from China on our Delhi-Chengdu route and vice-a-versa,” IndiGo said in a statement.
“Therefore, we are suspending our flights between Delhi and Chengdu from February 1, 2020 until February 20, 2020. We are also suspending our Bengaluru-Hong Kong flight effective February 1, 2020.”
According to IndiGo, these are purely temporary and precautionary measures.
“We understand that these measures will cause inconvenience to our customers and we will be refunding the full amount to the impacted passengers,” the airline said. “We are in close touch with the relevant government authorities and we thank them and our partners in China for all the help and support that they have extended so far.”
Besides, the airline said that for now it will continue to operate the Kolkata-Guangzhou flight, which will be monitored on a daily basis.
“And for our operating crew, we are ensuring that they return to India on the inbound flights without any layover in China,” IndiGo said.
Similarly, Air India has cancelled its flight to Shanghai from January 31 to February 14.
“Air India has decided to cut the frequency of ‘DEL-HKG-DEL’ (flights) to three days only from 31st January to 14th February,” AI spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar said.
At present, Air India operates flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Health ministry in its advisory has suggested to carry out only essential travel to China.
Industry insiders say that services to Hong Kong might be completely suspended in the coming days.
On its part, SpiceJet has waived cancellation, change fees for all flights to and from Hong Kong between January 24 to February 24.
Additionally, international major airlines have either reduced or suspended their operations to China.
European aviation agency EASA has also issued a set of precautions for airlines operating to and from China.
The new virus, which is of the same genre as SARS of 2003, was first reported in WHO Disease outbreak news on January 5 in China’s Wuhan. Till now, it has progressively spread across many countries.
However, the new virus has spread at a much faster pace than the 2003 SARS epidemic.
In a bid to curb the spread of the virus, Chinese authorities have closed transportation services across many parts of the country, including Wuhan.