Flu makes airlines slash flights, but is this an excuse? | india | Hindustan Times
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Flu makes airlines slash flights, but is this an excuse?

india Updated: May 05, 2009 01:01 IST
Samiran Saha

The swine flu scare is gradually starting to take a toll on the ailing airline industry across the globe, but some believe this could be the chance for Indian carriers to seize the opportunity for new routes.

Even as Indian airlines are struggling to stay afloat and have adopted a wait-and-watch policy, several airlines across the world are thinning operations not only to Mexico but other parts of the world, fearing that it could lead to further spread of the disease.

US Airways has reduced 38 per cent of its scheduled flights to 12 cities in Mexico between May 10 and July 1. Continental Airlines is also planning to cut flight departures by about 40 per cent and also halve its capacity on flights.

Reductions in flights to Mexico by Continental Airlines and United Airlines will come into effect on Monday.

Delta Air Lines, based in Atlanta in southern US, said it was cancelling some flights and downsizing to smaller aircraft on certain routes to Mexico later in May.

“This is the time Indian’s international carrier can make best use of the opportunity by deploying capacities to several international locations where other international carriers have opted out,” said Mark Martin, senior advisor at consulting firm KPMG.

Some expert say the flu is an excuse for airlines to cut costs.

“Airlines are facing the heat of recession. They are using the flu as an excuse to bring down the non-operating costs,” said an industry analyst who asked not to be identified.

More than the flu, the sector’s recovery could be a key issue.

“The A (H1N1) virus would not affect the domestic carriers directly but because of low passenger volumes, the recovery would take even take longer,” said Ankur Bhatia, managing director of travel advisory firm Bird Group.