The Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to hit airline processes, with the latest fatality being flights connecting London with the Indian city of Kolkata.
The judgment was taken by the government of the state of West Bengal, citing the rising COVID cases in the UK.
UK to Kolkata
On December 30th, the government of West Bengal declared a ban on all international flights arriving from the UK to Kolkata from January 3rd. The indefinite suspension was prompted by a rise in covid cases in Kolkata, which the state government tells are arriving primarily from international passengers.
- Bengal’s capital city of Kolkata is facing a COVID surge, with 540 new cases reported on December 29th, bringing the total cases of West Bengal to 1089. The state’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee spoke on the matter yesterday, expressing,
The Indian state will also strengthen the testing requirements for passengers arriving even from not-at-risk countries. Airlines have been asked to randomly select 10% of the passengers for the RT-PCR test, with the remaining 90% needed to take the Rapid Antigen Test before exiting the airport.
Air India flight between Kolkata and London
- The only direct connection between West Bengal and the UK is a once-weekly Air India flight between Kolkata and London. Flight AI163 leaves Kolkata for London Heathrow every Sunday, and the back flight from London (AI164) departs every Saturday. Air India deploys its 787 Dreamliner on this route.
While Air India’s website continues to show flights from London to Kolkata beyond January 3rd, once the ban arrives into impact, the carrier is possible to discontinue the direct service between the two cities behind its January 1st LHR-CCU flight.
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Omicron affects aviation
United and Delta canceled almost 200 flights on Christmas Eve due to staffing shortages linked to COVID. The cancellations during the busy holiday period impacted thousands of passengers who were unable to go home ahead of the holidays
US canceled around 700 flights
On Thursday, airlines in the US canceled almost 700 flights, with JetBlue and United flights most affected. JetBlue warned of further cancellations citing the rising number of COVID cases in the northeast, where most of its crew members are based.
The Lufthansa Group had to cut 33,000 flights from its winter schedule behind travel demand dropping following the Omicron spread.
The airline was hoping to make a recovery over the winter but instead had to make a 10% cut in its full network plan due to rising COVID cases across the world.
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