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Indian tourists may fill flights to Southeast Asia

Medical personal waiting to assist arriving passengers at Phuket  

Easing of restrictions on international flights from next month is likely to result in a massive demand for countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam which have not had flight connectivity from India for the past 20 months but are favourite holiday destinations for Indian tourists.

Such was the demand for Phuket, for instance, that MakeMyTrip announced charter flights in collaboration with GoAir and IndiGo earlier this month in the absence of commercial passenger flights.

Pre-COVID capacity

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has said all countries with which it has a bilateral air service agreement will be allowed 50%, 75% and 100% pre-COVID capacity from December 15 depending on their health risk status. The U.S., Canada, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. are allowed 100% flights. Europe and countries like Singapore will be allowed 75% of pre-COVID flights, while China and Hong Kong will be allowed 50% of flights.

“This decision gives more options to travellers who are planning their Christmas and New Year vacations to opt for leisure destinations like Thailand which has been a favourite pick for Indian travellers during winter holiday season pre-COVID,” said Aloke Bajpai, Group CEO & Co-Founder, Ixigo

“While Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia are certainly of high interest among Indian travellers, South East Asia will take longer to return to normalcy. Both Indonesia and Malaysia have had a recent surge and Thailand today imposed restrictions on multiple African countries after the discovery of a new coronavirus variant named Omicron,” cautions Binu Phillip, a travel marketing consultant.

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Destinations like Dubai which have seen a surge in airfares because of a huge travel demand due to the ongoing Dubai Expo 2021 will now see airlines mount more capacity. In fact, the UAE had recently sought exemption from restrictions on the number of flights under the air bubble arrangement.

“We have seen a massive surge in bookings for Dubai. It is already more than 100% of pre-pandemic level. The U.K. is another destination where there is a significant jump in bookings, followed by Nepal,” said Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip.

Domestic airlines to make first move

Domestic airlines, which mostly fly to short-haul international destinations to the west and the east of the country, are likely to make the first move, while big international carriers might take up to 4-8 weeks to add flights from Europe as they will have to redeploy planes and crew allocated for other destinations as well as rework their schedules, airlines executives say.

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“Resumption of international flights is good news for travellers across India, who will now have a greater choice of destinations and services. We are currently seeing high demand, and are enjoying welcoming customers back to the skies in style, ensuring they fly safe and fly well. We are seeking clarity of the details of the changes effective December 15 with the relevant authorities and will assess our schedule accordingly,” said Alex McEwan, Country Manager, South Asia at Virgin Atlantic.

The airline currently operates daily flights from Delhi and Mumbai to London Heathrow.


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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 11:51:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/relaxation-in-flights-likely-to-fuel-demand-for-se-asia/article37725768.ece

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