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US-bound travellers alter plans Thursday, September 13, 2001
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA/AHMEDABAD: Tour operators and travel agents were on their toes, as passengers kept calling from Tuesday night inquiring about US bound flights.
With all European and American lines pulling out of all West Asia destinations, quite a number of US and UK-bound passengers who had flown to Gulf Tuesday night in connecting Indian flights returned from Muscat.
Air-India cancelled its connecting flight AI-311 from Ahmedabad to New Delhi which was to take New York bound passengers, who were to board A-I 111 to the US destination via London. Initially the flight was on till London, but was cancelled as British authorities announced the closure of Heathrow airport following evacuation for security reasons.
The flight AI 311 was to leave for New Delhi on the morning of Wednesday with 58 passengers for New York and 31 for London. While most contacted the Air India airport and city offices on phone, a few travelling down from places like Nadiad were informed about the flight status as they arrived on early hours of Wednesday to check-in.
Meanwhile, A-I decided to go ahead with its flights to London. From Ahmedabad on Wednesday night, 29 passengers boarded the A-I flight to Mumbai for going to London. "But the 11 passengers will not be going as all trans-Atlantic flights stand cancelled" said the station manager Air-India Ahmedabad, Yogesh Mundwa.
While Delta, North-West, United Airlines and American Airlines have suspended their flights indefinitely, most others like KLM, British Airways, have stopped operations from Gulf destinations.
"KLM and BA on a day have nearly 60 passengers from Ahmedabad. That schedule will be indefinitely cancelled from Gulf", says Sahil Quorshi, an Ahmedabad travel agent. Even Lufthansa flight operated up to Frankfurt on Tuesday, said general sales agent of Lufthansa Gujarat Sanjeev Mehta.
"People have been calling up from morning to postpone journey", said Preeti Mehta of Global Travel. In the wake of the particular period when people do not travel much in Gujarat it's not difficult to handle the crowd, she adds. "In any case under the prevailing circumstances even if passengers do not wish to travel now, all airlines would have to honour these tickets," said Mehta of Lufthansa.
In Vadodara, the sudden stoppage of flights to and from the USA prompted prospective travellers to the USA to call travel agencies in the city for information. "We received calls from a few people wanting to know how soon would airlines to USA resume flights. There were a few who were inquiring about incoming passengers. But there is no panic," said Hitesh Trehan of the TCI.
According to him, passengers who had booked tickets for the next few days were considering deferring their travel by a week, he said.
Hitesh Desai of Tradewings, which also deals with foreign exchange, said that though not many calls came in from passengers, there were many inquiries on the selling rate for the dollar. Though the buying rate for the dollar remains unchanged, the selling rate has gone down, he said.
According to SITA travels manager Vijay Sharma, no queries have come in nor has any cancellation of tickets. "Barring one family in New Jersey that had planned a trip here in December and has now cancelled it there are no other inquiries " he said.
News Source : Times News Network [ India's best Newspaper ]