Air travel suffers a glitch due to frequent changes in state quarantine rules

After two weeks of the commencement of domestic flight operations in India, a huge decline has been witnessed in the air travel, thanks to frequent changes being made by different states in their quarantine rules in this period.

Different quarantine rules in various states for incoming passengers has led to confusion and uncertainty that have prevented demand for air travel and cancellations by the business travellers that airlines are banking on as per the aviation experts.

 In the beginning of the domestic flight operations almost all demand has been from those returning home or flying due to exigent situations. But for other segments, the varied and frequent changes in rules have been a big hurdle.

“An uncertainty of restrictions is among reasons that are hugely dampening air traffic; let me state clearly that there is a dampening effect on the revenue. There is a customer fear; we all know how strong that is. On top of that, the economy is weak. Even if the customers would want to travel, the economy would have depressed demand. Then, there is an uncertainty about restrictions: what will Karnataka allow, what will Kerala allow, etc. All those things are hugely dampening for traffic,” said IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta. Kapil Kaul, aviation expert said, “Demand is lower than expected largely due to the confusion and uncertainty at the state level regarding resumption, quarantine rules and continuing escalation in the infections.”

States like Delhi, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala have tightened quarantine laws after many asymptomatic passengers tested positive after landing at different airports in the first week, since air travel resumed. For instance, Delhi had earlier advised home quarantine for 14 days, but later made it mandatory for the first seven days. Goa changed its SOP twice and Kerala allows short-term business travel of up to seven days to the state for those who obtain an e-pass.

According to online travel agency, there has been an increase in enquiries for cancellations to destinations like Delhi, Goa, Bengaluru, Kerala, etc. These enquiries were mainly from business travellers who wouldn’t want to spend a week in quarantine for a two-day trip.

The aviation industry is now keeping a hope from those travelling to visit friends and relatives; this segment accounted for 70% of traffic during pre-corona times.

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