With the number of passengers travelling to China from the city dwindling following the outbreak of coronavirus in that country and the WHO guideline to contain the spread of the deadly disease, a low cost carrier is all set to suspend its flights between Kolkata and Guangzhou, officials said on Tuesday. Another airline based in China which operates flights between Kolkata and Kunming has adopted a wait and watch policy. Union health ministry advisories have asked people to refrain from travelling to China and said that travellers who return from that country could be quarantined.
According to officials at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) Airport here low cost carrier IndiGo has decided to suspend its daily Kolkata-Guangzhou flight from February 6. “In line with the WHO guideline to contain the spread of coronavirus, IndiGo will be suspending its Kolkata-Guangzhou service from February 6, 2020 to February 25, 2020 and Guangzhou-Kolkata from February 7 till February 26,” the airline said in a statement. “These are purely temporary and precautionary measures. We understand that these measures will cause inconvenience to our customers and we will be refunding the full amount to the impacted passengers,” the IndiGo statement said.
China Eastern Airlines has adopted a wait and watch policy, sources at the Kolkata airport said. The airlines has not made any announcement regarding suspension of its flights between Kolkata and Kunming in China and is operating them whenever there is requirement, the sources said. The airlines is cancelling its flights when there are no passengers, an Airports Authority of India (AAI) official at the airport said. The two airlines offer about 340 seats daily between Kolkata and the two Chinese cities.
Meanwhile, passengers arriving from Guangzhou and Kunming in China and other destinations such as Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong are being screened at the NSCBI airport. The airport is on health alert and doctors at the airport are carrying out thermal screening of passengers, NSCBI airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee told PTI. The passengers are being screened before they are proceeding towards the immigration counters, he said. “We have screened more than 10,000 passengers (arrival) since January 17 and so far no passenger has tested positive,” Bhattacharjee said.
The the Eastern India Chairman of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), Anil Punjabi, said the airlines are either cancelling or suspending their flights to and fro China since passengers who are booked on various flights are not turning up. Travel agents are assisting all passengers in cancelling tickets to China, he said adding most Indians in that country have returned to their homes after the evcuation by Air India’s evacuation.