While Omicron has been ravaging airlines in the West pretty visibly, most Indian airlines have been quiet about the impact it has had on them. Customer numbers though have been dipping, and fast! For instance, for December 24, 2021, the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India reported that 386,464 passengers flew on 2,825 flights, and on December 26, 2021, 385,534 passengers flew on 2,804 flights.
These numbers have now started to fizzle out. While a part of this was expected, purely because of return to work and hence vacation season is over but, the demand has fallen off a cliff totally because of Covid19 resurgence and application of new testing requirements for arrival, with an arguably more infectious variant being on the loose. For instance, on January 8, 2022, only 241,252 passengers flew on 2,366 flights around India, which, as you can see, is a 38% dip in passenger numbers from just two weeks ago and a 16% dip in the number of flights.
IndiGo to cut up to 20% of flights
Market leader, IndiGo has been the first one to announce that they will proactively cut flights due to Omicron. As per a press statement issued today, IndiGo will be withdrawing up to 20% of their flights from service, which could be in the range of 250-300 flights on any given day (IndiGo operates about 1500 flights daily on a good day!)
Where possible, the cancellation of flights will be done at least 72 hours in advance and customers will be moved to the next available flight and will also be able to change their travel through the use of Plan B on our website.
Remember, all these flights may not just be cancelled because of reduced loads, but also, undoubtedly, there would have been an impact of the virus spreading across airlines as well.
IndiGo, Vistara, SpiceJet and Go First offer free changes for flights booked up to January 31 and flown up to March 31, 2022
Owing to the increasing number of Omicron infections, large numbers of IndiGo customers are changing their travel plans. IndiGo is waiving change fees and is offering free changes for all new and existing bookings made up to January 31, for flights up to March 31, 2022. However, the fare difference will apply where you choose to make a booking change, and you will need to make sure you change the booking at least three days in advance.
For GoFirst and SpiceJet, however, the free changes will be for bookings made between January 8 and January 31, 2022, only, and prior such offers.
Vistara is also offering one complimentary date change on tickets issued by March 31, 2022, for travel through June 2022. Here is a partner communication for trade partners they have circulated.
This might be just the beginning of the Covid-19 bloodbath that Indian aviation will see all over again. In this case, for now, I hope airlines will be more willing to side with the customers for providing applicable changes and cancellations.
What do you think of the new decision by IndiGo to cancel up to 20% of their flights, and of airlines in India, in general, to offer, free changes and reschedules?
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