The CoronaVirus pandemic is here upon us, and clearly airlines are seeing a dip in demand due to the risk of spreading the outbreak and coming in close contact with someone who may already be a carrier of the virus. Having said that, while we are seeing pictures from around the globe of empty aircraft, I am not seeing the situation in real life, as I’ve flown three times over the last eight days and I continue to see full aircraft on my domestic travels.
Some people may be travelling because they could not get an airline waiver, some people may be travelling because it is Holi, and for some others, it is Business as Usual. As the outbreak spreads even further, airlines across India are now forced to get ahead of the situation. They have already done a good job at cancelling their flights into North Asia and South East Asia, and will perhaps now see cuts to their Middle-East capacity as well.
Over the weekend, Indian airlines have been starting to issue waivers. Here is a roundup.
IndiGo & SpiceJet
On March 7, 2020, IndiGo notified a waiver for those booked to travel on IndiGo between March 12, 2020, and March 31, 2020. There will be zero change fees on existing bookings for travel from March 12, 2020 – March 31, 2020. The airline also announced zero change fees on fresh bookings made between March 12, 2020 – March 31, 2020. Remember, fare difference, if any, is on you and has to be paid, and the changes to your bookings have to be made at least three days in advance. If you cancel, you pay.
SpiceJet has followed into the footsteps of IndiGo. Here is their word for word copy of the IndiGo travel waiver.
Both the airlines did not put the waiver in immediate effect which will force peak travel over Holi to happen, which could be a risk for the virus to spread.
GoAir launched a new travel waiver on March 8, 2020. This one allows you to change or cancel flights up to September 30, 2020, when booked between March 8, 2020, and April 30, 2020. Does not apply to existing bookings and only has the sole purpose to ensure forward bookings don’t suffer.
Air Asia India
On March 8, 2020, Air Asia India notified a waiver for those booked to travel on their airline between March 8, 2020, and March 31, 2020. There will be zero change fees on existing bookings and fresh bookings. Remember, fare difference, if any, is on you and has to be paid, and the changes to your bookings have to be made at least three days in advance. If you cancel, you pay. Having said that, at least the airline was slightly better off than IndiGo and SpiceJet, having allowed people to change travels during the Holi travel period as well.
The airline travel waivers from Indian airlines are honestly all smoke and mirrors. Vistara and Air India have not even stepped up yet to announce what their policy will be with respect to the new waiver. It seems like everyone expects people to postpone travel but not cancel it.
What do you make of the current waivers of Indian carriers due to the CoronaVirus outbreak?