Coronavirus blow: As foreign airlines suspend operations, tourism, hotels will also be hit

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Updated: March 13, 2020 10:30 AM

While the centre’s decision to cancel all valid visas in the wake of coronavirus is likely to impact the passenger load, the same is also expected to have a trickle-down effect on the tourism and hotel industry as well.

Many countries, including India, have imposed restrictions on flights to and from various other nations, in the wake of coronavirus outbreak. (Representative image) Coronavirus has spread to virtually all the continents and has affected 115 countries so far. (Representative image)

While the centre’s decision to cancel all valid visas in the wake of coronavirus is likely to impact the passenger load, the same is also expected to have a trickle-down effect on the tourism and hotel industry as well. As foreign airlines are expected to reduce services in the coming month, the cascading effect of visa curbs will cause a blow of over Rs 8,500 crore to aviation, travel and hotels segments, according to the Indian Association of Tour Operators, The Indian Express reported. Foreign airlines such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, etc handle over 60% of India’s international air traffic every year. 

Qatar Airways has already started to reduce its services at airports such as Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi, the newspaper reported. Doha-based Qatar Airways serves 13 Indian cities. On the other hand, a spokesperson for Emirates said that the situation “continues to evolve and remains dynamic.” Emirates is currently serving nine Indian cities viz Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kochi, Mumbai, and Thiruvananthapuram. “A big share of our travellers are Indians, and the move is applicable on foreigners, but we will see some impact. We are yet to really gauge the impact. Overall, we have seen a drop in bookings over the last few weeks. But now that the advisory (of visa cancellation) has gone out, people will cancel their bookings immediately,” a senior Oman Air executive posted in India told the newspaper. 

Earlier, a global trade organisation IATA estimates that the coronavirus impact on the aviation business will be to the tune of $63 billion to $113 billion. The outbreak of coronavirus from China’s Wuhan city has sent the global aviation industry to a frenzy and the air traffic growth has slowed down to a decade low in January 2020, according to IATA. However, worst is expected in coming months and January could be merely the tip of the iceberg. “January was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the traffic impacts we are seeing owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, given that major travel restrictions in China did not begin until 23 January. Nevertheless, it was still enough to cause our slowest traffic growth in nearly a decade,” Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO, IATA, said in a statement last week. Coronavirus has spread to virtually all the continents and has affected 115 countries so far, according to WHO.

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