Air India is set to operate 32 flights to the US from May 11 with charter flights being planned to fly South Koreans home as India is in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19.
Both international and domestic airlines are adding flights out of India to bring home residents and citizens as the coronavirus outbreak goes from bad to worse, Bloomberg said in a news report.
English television news channel Wion said, joining the plan, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines are also hoping to soon charter flights from India to South Korea to help bring back citizens who have been stranded in India due to the pandemic.
South Korea had earlier suspended all scheduled flights to and from India due to the COVID-19 crisis. However, the two companies are in talks with aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to work out a plan to bring back South Korean nationals wanting to return.
Air India To Operate 32 Flights
Air India plans to increase its weekly frequency of flights to the US to 32 starting May 11, up from the current 29.
That compares with about 33 weekly flights before COVID-19. Korean Air Lines Co and Asiana Airlines Inc meanwhile are planning to charter flights from India to help South Koreans there wanting to return.
Both carriers, which had previously halted all scheduled services to the South Asian nation because of the pandemic, are working with regulators to finalise the flights’ details.
India now has the world’s fastest-growing COVID caseload with 18.8 million confirmed instances. The nation set another record on Friday with 3,86,452 additional cases.
Deaths rose by 3,498 to 208,330. The political and financial capitals of New Delhi and Mumbai are in lockdown and this week, the US told its citizens to get out of India as soon as possible.
The ferocious surge in new cases has also reversed one of the airline industry’s biggest travel comebacks. Carriers in India had reached 87 per cent of their pre-pandemic seat capacity through early April, based on a Bloomberg analysis of data from flight tracker OAG, but that progress has now unravelled led by a pullback in domestic flights, which make up the vast majority of the market.
As the outbreak overwhelms the nation’s hospitals and crematoriums, an upturn in air travel won’t happen until the latest crisis is contained, Rob Morris, the head of consultancy at UK aviation advisory firm Cirium, said earlier this week.
US Issues Level 4 Advisory
The US released a Level 4 travel advisory, the highest of its kind issued by the State Department. “US citizens are reporting being denied admittance to hospitals in some cities due to a lack of space,” the website of the US Embassy and Consulates in India said in a health alert. All routine US citizen services and visa services at the US Consulate General Chennai have been cancelled.