West Bengal restricts flight operations from Delhi and Mumbai to 3 times a week to contain Omicron threat

The original article was published on January 2, 2022, and was updated on January 4, 2022, to reflect current requirements. 

West Bengal has started implementing a gamut of measures hoping that these will protect the Omicron variant from entering the state in large numbers. On the receiving end are many businesses and the airlines again.

On January 2, 2022, the West Bengal government has informed the Government of India that the state would allow the operation of flights from Delhi and Mumbai, two of India’s metropolises that have seen a spike in cases, possibly due to Omicron, twice a week only. Effective January 5, 2021, flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Kolkata (and Bagdogra and Durgapur) will be operated only on Monday and Friday.

In an updated move on January 4, 2022, the Government of West Bengal has updated its instructions to allow flights from Mumbai and Delhi into West Bengal airports three days a week, namely, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The embargo is only on flights to West Bengal airports and not on operating flights from Kolkata to these metros. So, the airlines could fly in a jet from, let’s say, Bangalore on other days, and fly it to Delhi or Mumbai. This would require the network planners to take some tough calls.

IndiGo has already cancelled a tonne of flights, five days a week, into West Bengal for now. Vistara has made a move to do technical stops before arriving in Kolkata for flights from Delhi and Mumbai.

Late last week, the West Bengal government also announced a decision to suspend the once-a-week direct flight between Kolkata and London, considering the rising number of Omicron variant cases in the United Kingdom.

When publishing this article on January 2, 2022, the airlines were still selling all the dates on the calendar and had not pulled any flights. I would expect airlines to realign their schedules shortly, which would lead to many cancellations in hotel and airline bookings. For Vistara and Air India, I fully expect them to put their widebodies on routes between Delhi and Kolkata on Monday and Friday. For other airlines, their biggest available aircraft (IndiGo has the A321s and SpiceJet the 737-900s). Fortunately, IndiGo has 11 frequencies between Delhi and Kolkata and five days between Mumbai and Kolkata.

Bottomline

West Bengal has shut the door on flights from Delhi and Mumbai to the state thrice a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, effective January 5, 2022. Expect this to be a medium-term measure. This will not just impact domestic arrivals into the state but also affect those who arrive on international flights into Delhi and Mumbai and want to further arrive, let’s say, into Kolkata airport.

What do you think of West Bengal’s new move to channel traffic into the state only on three days of the week?


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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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Comments

  1. According to the World health Organization, flights bans and restrictions are completely useless when a virus is already inside, no matter if it is in “large number” or not. This kind of measures is only a political joke and no real doctor and health specialist would agree with it. Don’t forget also that this “omicron” is even less harmful than he other “variants”, the sole purpose of this created omicron panic is to stimulate the use of gene injections known as “vaccines”.

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