Economy

Smog grounds United Airlines flights to Delhi

Smog grounds United Airlines flights to Delhi

In what appears to be a rare case in aviation history, United Airlines on Friday scrubbed its direct, non-stop Newark-New Delhi flight, citing air quality issues in India's capital.

Passengers will be given vouchers to switch flights, or given assistance in flying with a different airline.

While the US-based airline was earlier offering waivers on rescheduling of tickets, it has now made a decision to cancel its Newark-Delhi flights on Friday and Saturday (arriving Saturday and Sunday nights).

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The United airlines operates Boeing 777 a 267-seated aircraft on the route from Newark to Delhi comprising of 14 hours of journey. The airline will continue to monitor the crisis and advises the public to watch for updates, a United airlines spokesperson told to DNA India. In an email on November 9, the airline company informed its passengers that travel disruptions were likely due to "air quality concerns" in Delhi. United is the only U.S. airline to offer direct flights to India.

It is not known if competing airlines Virgin Atlantic, Etihad and KLM offered any similar waiver.

The tour operators, however, have not seen any cancellations yet.

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Karan Anand, head (relationships), Cox & Kings, said: "We are not seeing any cancellations from tourists at this point". Guests are arriving as per schedule and they move out of Delhi immediately and so there is no cause for concern.

According to the Washington Post, the fine particulates in the smog are more than 40 times greater than what the World Health Organization-deems a recommended safe level. With air pollutants, especially PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels over ten times higher than admissible levels the health ministry issued advisories to people living in the city. One Delhi official said that the pollution is so bad that the city has turned into a "gas chamber".

The smog levels were reported to have decreased today but air pollution remained in the "severe" category.

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