Will It Wreck London Plans Of Air India And Vistara?Page Visited: 9
The new strain of the novel coronavirus in the UK has led to many European countries restricting travel to Britain. There are increasing murmurs of India, which has an air travel bubble arrangement with the UK, also doing the same.
The government will firm its opinion after the Health Ministry’s top advisers, including experts from AIIMS and ICMR, meet on December 21 to take stock of the development in the UK.
Any travel restriction from India will impact one of the busiest international routes, especially during a time that is favourite for international travel. Air India and Vistara have services to the UK capital at present. SpiceJet, which had plans to start flying to London in December, already had to delay it after the UK had gone into a fresh lockdown in end-November.
Both Air India and Vistara announced plans to expand services to London. The national carrier had plans to fly from eight Indian cities to London. Apart from Delhi and Mumbai, the list included Kochi, Goa, Amritsar, Chennai and Ahmedabad.
The carrier also had started flights on the Delhi-Amritsar-Birmingham sector from December 11.
In November, Vistara announced plans to expand its operations to the UK. Apart from the direct flights the joint-venture airline between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines operates to London from Delhi, the full-service airline was set to fly to the UK capital from Mumbai from January 16.
“We are delighted at the very positive response to our service between Delhi and London Heathrow which has encouraged us to further strengthen the network by adding connectivity from Mumbai as we see considerable demand between the two countries, and remain optimistic about the future,” Leslie Thng, Chief Executive Officer – Vistara, said during the announcement.
But, with customers already airing doubts about flight availability after the latest development in the UK, the industry observers see a possible fall in demand, despite the festival season, otherwise a favourite time of the year for holidaymakers.
Moneycontrol has reached out to the two airlines if there is a rethink on their UK plans. The story will be updated once they respond.
Till now, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium have said they would have half flights to the UK. The restrictions came after health experts said that the new COVID-19 strain was more transmissible. But there is not enough data to say, at the present, that the new strain is more deadly.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new strain “was out of control”.
Some of the areas that have been impacted include London and south-east England. It prompted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose a new set of restrictions for these areas, practically ending any possible Christmas celebrations.
Industry observers in India have already called up on the government to take steps. Taking to Twitter, Ameya Joshi, who runs aviation analysis website Network Thoughts said:
Hope the Indian government and officials take an early call on the flights to UK
I have always felt we were late to suspend international services in March. Waiting for the chinese new year to stop flights to China!
Too big a risk now with UK
— Ameya (@khabri_lal) December 20, 2020