Logistics

J&K political crisis: Airlines see bookings fall, cancellations rise

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on August 09, 2019 Published on August 09, 2019

Although domestic airlines continue to fly to Srinagar, Jammu and Leh despite the political slugfest, there is a decline in Passenger Load Factor (PLF).

A spokesperson for Air India said that for the flights to J&K, the PLF were 60 per cent, though there was no disruption in service.

Airlines have not received any directive from the government to stop flying to J&K and Leh. However, according to an executive representing the full service carrier, “the passenger load factors for flights going to the J&K region are impacted to a great extent and is likely to stay like this for the next three to six months.”

An industry expert said on the condition of anonymity, “There will be a drop in PLF of at least 30-40 per cent. This will continue for a long time.”

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, had in April, asked the airlines to expand capacity and not increase fare in general. An industry expert said, “In general scenario, the fares in that region would have been impacted and shot up. However, due to the government’s decree, the fares have a cap.”

However, airlines are facing connectivity issues which are disrupting operations. GoAir spokesperson said, “GoAir is facing operational challenges, in that there is limited telephone connectivity in J&K making it difficult to conduct normal operations.”

An LCC player said, “The public sentiment is at a peak at the moment, and hence, we have seen more cancellations. Advance bookings, too, have been impacted.” Industry players like Yatra.com and Thomas Cook have seen a diversion in traffic.

Speaking to BusinessLine, Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head — Holiday, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd said that due to safety and security concerns they have ensured safe return of customers to their respective places. “In view of the government’s travel advisory, we have also temporarily cancelled our upcoming tours and expect the situation to stabilise soon. For travellers who have pre-booked tours with us, we are offering them options for an alternate destination or defer their travel plans.”

According to data from SanKash, travel Fintech Startup, with the recent terror alert in J&K, cancellation requests have gone up by 25 per cent for the coming extended weekends. Thirty per cent of the tourists have already put on hold their bookings for Diwali holidays. Also, around 40 per cent of those had to cut short their stay, have requested for refund.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has partially shutdown its airspace which is impacting international flights. GoAir’s spokesperson said, “Along with the flights to J&K, international flights to the Middle East have also been affected because of this. .”

In a pre-emptive measure to avoid backlash against tourists after scrapping Article 370, the government had issued an extradition circular to the pilgrims of Amarnath Yatra and implemented a curfew.

J&K has airports in Jammu, Srinagar and Leh. Both full-service carriers and low-cost carriers fly daily to these airports. GoAir currently operates seven flights to Srinagar, five to Leh and three to Jammu; and Vistara operates two daily flights from Delhi to Srinagar and Jammu. State-run Air India, too, operates eight daily flights to Jammu, Srinagar and Leh.

Published on August 09, 2019
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