Globally, the aviation industry is in turmoil after the outbreak of coronavirus. While Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific cancelled more than three-quarters of its weekly flights, in the U.S., United Airlines is cutting down on its domestic and international flights by 10% and 20%, respectively. British Airways has cancelled over 400 flights in March.
Back home, outbound travel from India is down by almost 20% according to estimates shared by online travel company MakeMyTrip. “Data on our platform indicates that flight bookings for Southeast Asian countries have been significantly impacted; however, countries in the westward region, including the U.S. and Europe, are seeing a dip in numbers,” says a MakeMyTrip spokesperson.
The weak demand for travel to Southeast Asia has forced domestic carriers like Vistara to cancel flights in March—20 flights between Delhi and Bangkok, 26 flights between Mumbai and Singapore, and eight flights between Delhi and Singapore.
In fact, Southeast Asia and Italy, a country that has reported over 3,000 infected cases, are the most preferred destinations for Indians during the upcoming summer travel season. “They [people] are wary of making fresh bookings to the affected locations and airfares to these destinations have dropped by 20%-30%,” says yatra.com co-founder Sabina Chopra, who is COO, corporate travel, and head-industry relations at the online travel portal.
With respect to domestic travel, MakeMyTrip says that there has been no noticeable dip in flight bookings as yet. However, Chopra adds, “There is a hike in enquires to domestic destinations such as Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Goa, Ujjain, and Northeast cities, among others.” Holiday seekers are also looking at alternate foreign destinations such as Sri Lanka and Bhutan for their summer travel.