The Gulf Arab State of Qatar has temporarily suspended entry for passengers traveling from India and other countries including, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, and Thailand. This affects all persons intending to enter from these countries, including visas upon arrival, and those with a residence or work permit, and temporary visitors.
“This decision comes as a preventive measure due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide,” read a statement from Qatar Airways, the nation’s flag carrier. “The safety, security and good health of our passengers, employees, and the wider community in Qatar is our highest priority,” it added. The airline has about a 4% share of India’s international passenger traffic. “Qatar Airways is working closely with global and national authorities to implement the latest advice and guidance on COVID-19 and operate our services accordingly,” the airline said.
Qatar Airways currently operates 102 weekly flights between its capital city of Doha and 13 destinations in India, including Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Mumbai, Nagpur, and Thiruvananthapuram. The airline’s cargo division, Qatar Airways Cargo, currently operates a total of 28 weekly freighters to seven destinations in India.
IndiGo, India’s largest passenger airline, will also be impacted by this travel ban as it operates non-stop daily flights between Doha and Mumbai, Kochi, Kozhikode, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai. The airline is expected to release a statement on the same. “Owing to the travel ban for people of multiple nationalities, including Indian nationals, IndiGo will be cancelling its flights to Doha till March 17, 2020. We will be monitoring the situation closely and will share further updates once the ban is lifted,” read a statement from IndiGo.
In November 2019, Qatar Airways and IndiGo signed a codeshare agreement, which would strengthen the latter’s international operations to the Middle-East. The agreement enabled Qatar Airways to place its code on IndiGo flights between Doha and Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad.
In a recent statement, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated that the global aviation industry could face losses between $63 billion (in a scenario where COVID-19 is contained in current markets with over 100 cases as of 2 March) and $113 billion (in a scenario with a broader spreading of COVID-19). “IATA’s previous analysis (issued on 20 February 2020) put lost revenues at $29.3 billion based on a scenario that would see the impact of COVID-19 largely confined to markets associated with China. Since that time, the virus has spread to over 80 countries and forward bookings have been severely impacted on routes beyond China,” IATA said in the statement.