Taxi operators in the district are feeling the pinch as tourists' arrival has declined after Air India decided to suspend its flights to Bhuntar airport till September 15, due to bad weather.
The airline suspended all its flight operations between Delhi and Kullu-Manali, following heavy rain and fog in the region.
Demanding resumption of flights as soon as the weather clears, Bhuntar taxi operators' union president Deevan Chand said, “We were hoping to do well when flights to the airport were resumed after a long hiatus, but again the flights have been suspended. The absence of tourists will hurt our business.”
Operator Tek Ram said the taxi business in the district had slumped because there were no tourists.
“Air connectivity is the only way for taxis to flourish here, because tourists arriving by air would prefer to use taxis to get around,” he added.
Heavy losses have forced several operators to sell their luxury cars because they failed to repay their loans, they say.
Manali taxi operators' union general secretary Makkar Dhavaj Sharma said while the suspension of flights had affected everyone in the tourism industry in the district, 4,000 taxi operators had been hit particularly hard as they were already suffering losses due to the high court's ban on vehicles older than four years, near Rohtang Pass due to environmental factors.
“We have already submitted a petition in the Supreme Court regarding this issue,” he added.
The decline in tourists' arrival has also adversely affected the local hotel industry, with Manali hoteliers' association president Anup Thakur saying the industry had recorded 20% loss.