Coronavirus: As entry restrictions kick in, several airlines suspend flights

NEW DELHI: Afghanistan, Philippines and Malaysia have been added to the list of countries from where no one — including Indian citizens — can fly direct to India till the month-end to control the spread of coronavirus. This ban came in effect from 3 pm Tuesday.
Travel of passengers from Europe, United Kingdom and Turkey on non-stops to India has also been prohibited from 5.30 pm on Wednesday. This means schedule commercial flights from here will need to take off before that deadline so that people onboard are allowed to enter India on arrival. Entry restriction from these places is in force till March 31 as of now. A number of airlines have suspended their flights.
Beating the deadline to enter India, some Indians from UK reportedly paid up to Rs 2 lakh for a one-way ticket to fly back home before the door on nonstops shuts till the month-end.
Air India (AI) has suspended all its flights between India and Europe/UK till the month-end. AI has schedule services to several destinations there like London, Birmingham, Paris, Frankfurt, Vienna, Copenhagen, Rome and Milan.
Lufthansa Group has suspended all India flights from Tuesday to April 12. “This reflects heightened entry restrictions for travellers from Europe published by Indian authorities on Monday in response to the extraordinary situation caused by the spread of the coronavirus. Flights from Munich and Zurich (by Swiss) will continue to be suspended until April 24.
Resuming selected flights from Frankfurt to India after April 12 is subject to review in due time… Lufthansa Group has extended its waiver policy, which already offers customers extensive rebooking options for existing and future bookings,” the German major said.
IndiGo is suspending flights to Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur (KL). “As per the DGCA advisory to restrict international traffic from Turkey and Malaysia, IndiGo will be cancelling its flights between Delhi-Istanbul and Chennai-KL from Wednesday until March 31, 2020. The airline has already cancelled flights between Bangalore-KL until March 31, 2020, and Delhi-KL until April 30, 2020. These are purely temporary and precautionary measures…. we will be refunding the full amount to the impacted passengers,” IndiGo said in a statement.
GoAir has suspended all its international flights till April 15, 2020. Vistara says it has cancelled 42 flights between Mumbai and Dubai “on selected dates until April 30, 2020”. SpiceJet, the only other Indian carrier that flies abroad, did not give details of its affected international operations.
Dubai-based low cost carrier flyDubai has suspended all flights to India from Tuesday night till March 31. The budget carrier operates 30 weekly flights from 8 Indian cities.
The DGCA order to airlines issued on Tuesday says: “Travel of passengers from Afghanistan, Philippines, Malaysia to India is prohibited with immediate effect…. The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure. This instruction is a temporary measure and shall be in force till March 31, 2020, and will be reviewed subsequently. All scheduled Indian and foreign airlines engaged in international air transportation to/from India, therefore, are directed to follow the above advisory and not to carry any passenger in violation thereof.”
India had last week suspended most visas from March 13 to April 15. Visa-free travel facility for overseas citizens of India (OCI) card holders has also been suspended till April 15.

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