Air India Cuts Frequency To US From May 6 As Travel Restrictions Kick In

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As travel restrictions by the United States on those who have been in India at any point in the preceding 14 days kicks in, Air India will be slashing frequency of its highly popular US non-stop routes. 

The US has banned entry for those who have been in India at any point in the preceding 14 days and only US citizens and green card holders, and some special visa categories are exempt from this ban. Flights have not been banned flights to or from India. 

Given the significantly reduced number of eligible flyer, Air India which has about 30 weekly flights as of now and has cut flights mainly from and to its hub Delhi, followed by Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Air India’s Temporary Schedule

The Times of India reported that as per its schedule, Air India has come out with a schedule that cancels flights on India-America routes starting between May 6 and 14 and up to first week of June (different for different sectors). This schedule is tentative as the travel restriction from India by US, like most other countries including UK, is indefinite.

Besides Air India, United is the only other airline that operates non-stop routes between India and US. Information has been sought from it about its plans, if any, to cut India frequencies during the restriction period.

For now, United has switched to bigger passenger capacity planes — like Boeing 777 from B787 — to be able to fly in more medical aid as cargo to India and fly our more passengers from India before the Tuesday morning deadline.

During the pandemic, airlines have been offering free rescheduling for flights cancelled due to decisions by government in form of travel restrictions or flight cancellations. Like Canada has temporarily stopped all flights from India.

Air India Revised List

Air India’s revised schedule “in view of travel restriction imposed by US regulatory authorities” lists cancelled flights. These include:

  • AI 173/174. Delhi (DEL)-San Francisco (SFO)-DEL of Thursdays between May 6 and June 3
  • AI 183/176. DEL-SFO-Bengaluru (BLR) of Tuesdays between May 11 and June 1.
  • AI 175/184. BLR-SFO-DEL Day 4 of Thursdays between May 13 and June 3
  • AI 127/126. DEL-Chicago (ORD)-DEL of Mondays and Fridays between May 7 and May 21
  • AI 105/106. DEL-Newark (EWR)-DEL of Fridays and Sundays between May 9 and May 30
  • AI 105/106. DEL-EWR-DEL of Mondays between May 10 and May 31
  • AI 103/104. DEL-Washington (IAD) -DEL of May 7
  • AI 103/104. DEL-IAD-DEL of Sundays between May 9 and May 30
  • AI 104. IAD-DEL of Wednesdays between May 12 and June 2
  • AI 103. DEL-IAD of Fridays between May 14 and June 4
  • AI 191/144. Mumbai (BOM)-EWR-BOM of Wednesdays and Fridays between May 7 and May 21
  • AI 191/144. BOM-EWR-BOM of Wednesdays and Fridays between May 26 and June 2.
  • AI 191/144. BOM-EWR-BOM of May 30.

Meanwhile, All the 242 people onboard Air India’s Delhi-Amritsar-Rome flight (AI 1123) last Wednesday were quarantined after about 30 passengers and two crew members — the captain who operated the aircraft and the lead cabin crew member — tested COVID positive on arrival.

Italian authorities sent the 232 passengers, eight cabin crew members and two pilots for paid quarantine in a hotel.

The crew is having a tough time as they have reportedly been sent to a COVID centre hospital for quarantine. The Times of India said that one of the crew members has written to the airline management to say: “After landing in Rome (on April 28) we were informed about informed about Italy’s new COVID protocol … that all passengers will be quarantined for 10 days. After following all rules, it took us almost nine hours to reach the hotel after landing (where COVID tests were done). The hotel we have been provided is a COVID centre hospital.” The harried crew member adds that the “room is dirty; no soap or towel provided; AC does not work.”

“It has been two days since I asked them to open my room window (but) no one has come until now,” the crew member says in her email. She complains about quality of “uncooked” food being served to them.

“A lot of our crew is vegetarian (who were told when they asked for the same) this is hospital, not a hotel. ‘So cooperate with whatever is provided to you’… If nothing (happens), we will definitely fall sick either by eating uncooked food or by hunger,” she says.

The second RT-PCR test conduced after some days of quarantine has come negative for the seven crew and a pilot. AI is now making arrangements to fly them back home either on their own or other available commercial flights. The captian and senior most crew member of that flight will remain quarantined in Italy till they test negative.

While comments and details have been sought from Air India on whether the passengers are still in paid quarantine or they have been allowed to leave their hotels, sources say all those who tested negative are allowed to leave and others stay in quarantine till they test negative.


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