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Omicron scare: Domestic flyers drop 39% in 2 weeks; IndiGo to cut 20% capacity – Times of India

NEW DELHI: With demand for travel taking a severe hit due to sharp surge in Omicron cases, India’s biggest airline by passenger carriage — IndiGo — has decided to cut its capacity by 20%. Like other airlines, it has waived change fees as scores of people are altering their travel plans.
“With the reduced demand, we will also be selectively withdrawing some of our flights from service. We anticipate that around 20% of our current scheduled operations will be withdrawn from service,” IndiGo said in a statement.
At nearly 3.9 lakh, India saw its highest post-Covid daily domestic flyer number on December 26, 2021. By Saturday (Jan 8), aviation ministry data showed this figure had fallen to 2.4 lakh — a steep 39%. On an average, about 4.2 lakh people used to fly within the country in pre-Covid times when peak winter travel season used to last till mid-January.
“Where possible, cancellations 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. Since our call centre is currently handling a large volume of calls, we are encouraging our customers to use our digital channels where possible,” it added.
Like almost all other airlines, IndiGo said it has waived change fees. “Owing to increasing number of Omicron infections, large numbers of IndiGo customers are changing their travel plans. In response to customer needs, 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,” it added.
The surge in Omicron cases has eclipsed the brief sunshine period Indian travel industry was seeing in the past few months.
The fear of getting infected, stricter testing and quarantine norms by states has led to a drop in numbers and increased cancellations.
Bengal has limited domestic flights from Delhi and Mumbai. The worst hit is metro-to-metro traffic due to the combined decline in business, leisure and visiting friends and relatives (VFR) trips.