Indian low-cost airline –IndiGo on Sunday announced that it has decided to waive off ticket rescheduling fees for bookings till the end of January, i.e. 31st January.
It has come on the heels of disruption caused by the fast-spreading COVID-19 Omicron variant, the airlines said in a statement.
“Owing to the increasing number of Omicron infections, large numbers of IndiGo customers are changing their travel plans. In response to customer needs, IndiGo is waiving change fees and is offering free changes for all new and existing bookings made up to 31st January, for flights up to 31st March 2022,” IndiGo said.
In view of the increasing cases of Omicron variant across the country, IndiGo had decided to selectively withdraw some of its flights from service.
“We anticipate that around 20 percent of our current scheduled operations will be withdrawn from service,” it said.
“Where possible, cancellations of flights will be done at least 72 hours in advance, and customers will be moved to the next available flight and will also be able to change their travel through the use of Plan B on our website,” the airlines noted.
“Since our call center is currently handling a large volume of calls, we are encouraging our customers to use our digital channels where possible,” the statement further added.
IndiGo’s decision to cut down its airline operations coincides with a stark fall in domestic air travel due to the mounting cases of COVID-19 infections across the country.
The first case of Omicron was detected on December 2 in the country. Within days, a fresh spike of cases of the Omicron variant started to record from the metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.
According to the statistics by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, on January 9, 2.40 lakh air passengers travelled from domestic flights, comparatively lower than 3.85 lakh passengers who travelled on December 26.
IndiGo’s load factor, which measures the percentage of seating capacity that the passengers have occupied, was 65.7% on January 9, meaning that nearly 34 out of every 100 seats went unsold. SpiceJet and GoFirst, the other two budget airline competitors, recorded load factors of 70.3 percent and 59.3 percent, respectively.
On Sunday, Air India had a load factor of 66.3 percent, while Vistara and AirAsia India had load factors of 52.9 percent and 58.5 percent, respectively.
For air travel, many states have tightened the rules for domestic air travelers, besides international passengers, by making it mandatory for them to produce a double vaccination certificate or a negative RT-PCR test report.