Day 3: West-bound flyers still stranded | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Day 3: West-bound flyers still stranded

mumbai Updated: Apr 18, 2010 01:47 IST
Soubhik Mitra
Soubhik Mitra
Hindustan Times
Cuffe Parade businessman Monish Anand

Cuffe Parade businessman Monish Anand will lose 300 euros (Rs 17,915) per night if his Swiss Air flight does not operate on Sunday because the hotel booked in Zurich will not give him refund.

The airline has cancelled all the flights on Saturday. “I hope it gets sorted,” said the 43-year-old.

For the third consecutive day, airlines cancelled all flights passing over the European aerospace because of the ashes strewn in skies following volcanic eruptions in Iceland. International terminals at the city airport were deserted as airlines announced flight cancellations well in advance.

As a result, lakhs of travellers such as Anand are praying for the problem to end soon. The Marwa’s — a family of three — have a European holiday costing Rs 3 lakh on stake.

“We will miss at least two destinations if the trip is delayed by a day,” said Sunil Marwa, a chemist shop owner from Khar.

Weather forecasts show a bleak picture.

According to the UK-based World Area Forecasting Centre (WAFC), that issues weather updates to airports across the world, the problem could worsen. “It is difficult to say when the problem will end because the eruptions are still on. The WAFC has demarcated European skies as a danger zone,” said R.V. Sharma, deputy director, (western region) with the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Sharma spent all of Saturday monitoring weather charts at the IMD office at the Mumbai airport.

The British Broadcasting Corporation weather bulletins also projected the situation to get worse.

The natural calamity is affecting Indian travellers more because the country does not have a culture of insuring their travel.

“Most foreigners coming to India have travel insurance. So, in the situation such as this, the entire loss would be refunded,” said Ajay Prakash, general secretary, Travel Agents Federation of India.

The disruption is likely to make an impact on airline balance sheets.

“Airlines were coming out of the bad patch in the last quarter. This disruption will lead to huge losses,” said Rajesh Rateria, chairman (western region), Travel Agent Association of India.