No major coronavirus impact so far on India-China air sector

By Nirbhay Kumar

New Delhi, Jan 24 : The outbreak of coronavirus in Chinese province of Wuhan has set off alarm bells across the globe but air traffic on India-China route is yet to see any major impact, primarily because it is not peak travel season.

Travel firms have been suggesting alternate tourist destinations such as Vietnam and Singapore to their clients in case they want to cancel their travel plans to China.

“As this is not currently India’s holiday season, most of our leisure customers are adopting a wait and watch approach to gauge further developments. For our booked customers who prefer cancelling their China tour, we are offering various alternative destinations or the option to either defer their trip or avail of a future travel voucher,” said Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head – Holiday, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

Kale said Indonesia and Singapore are favoured destinations for Indian travellers for this travel season.

Indian carriers Air India and IndiGo connect several key cities of China such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. Biggest no-frills carrier IndiGo on Thursday announced daily direct flights connecting Chengdu with Mumbai.

As per industry estimates, the quarterly air traffic on India-China routes is over 1 lakh (one-way) and comprises tourist and business travellers. China is considered key source market for many global carriers and travel firms with over 100 million outbound trips estimated in 2020.

Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director of diversified Bird Group, said that the trend on India-China route following the spread of deadly virus would take time to emerge as traffic between the two countries is not much.

As hundreds of cases of coronavirus infection has been reported in China’s Wuhan province and concerns of its spread remain high, Indian civil aviation authorities have been screening passengers from China de-boarding at seven key airports including Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Cochin, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

Daniel D’souza, President and Country Head, Leisure, SOTC Travel said that his teams on the ground are closely monitoring the situation and sharing timely updates.

“The departures to China are scheduled from March. We are focused on the safety of our customers and are recommending alternate destinations like Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and Dubai,” he said.

(Nirbhay Kumar can be contacted at nirbhay.k@ians.in)

/IANS

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