Few flights to Mumbai cancelled after attacks


Frankfurt/London : A handful of flights from Europe to Mumbai were cancelled on Thursday after more than 100 people were killed in attacks on luxury hotels, hospitals and a tourist cafe in India’s financial capital, according to Reuters.

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Most airlines said they were monitoring the situation and were making contingency plans should it worsen, and Europe’s biggest travel firm TUI Travel said it did not expect large numbers of cancellations.

Some 17 hours after the late-evening assault, soldiers and militants were still exchanging intermittent fire and more than 100 people were trapped inside rooms of the Taj Mahal hotel, a 105-year-old city landmark.

Germany’s flagship carrier Lufthansa said that one flight had been on its way to Mumbai on Wednesday at the time of the attacks and was diverted to New Delhi.

“Today there were supposed to be two flights there, from Frankfurt and Munich, and those will not take place. Tomorrow we’ll have to see how the situation develops,” a spokesman for Lufthansa said.

Both Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the two main carriers of Europe’s largest airline group Air France KLM, cancelled flights to Mumbai.

But a British Airways spokesman said flights to Mumbai were still operating normally. The group operates two per day from London’s Heathrow airport.

TUI Travel said Goa in India was a bigger destination than Mumbai for holiday travellers.

“We understand that we have one or two holidaymakers in Mumbai on a tour which is clearly very regrettable and we’re just trying to understand what their whereabouts are at the moment,” TUI Travel Chief Executive Peter Long told Reuters.

“From previous tragedies, our customers are becoming hardened and it will not impact on their holiday arrangements … There will certainly be some cancellations but I don’t think it will be huge numbers,” he said.

Thomas Cook, Europe’s no. 2 travel operator, said it had 20 to 30 holidaymakers in Mumbai who were all accounted for, and that it did not anticipate cancellations.

Flight cancellations have also hit passengers to Thailand, where a blockade by anti-government protesters at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, a major Asian air hub, entered its third day on Thursday, stranding thousands of tourists.

Thailand is offering a naval airbase on the eastern seaboard as an alternative for airlines.

The airline industry is going through a rough patch, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) saying international air traffic declined from a year ago for the second consecutive month in October.

Among the airlines that said they will continue to fly to Mumbai were Indian airline Jet Airways, which uses Brussels as a hub for a number of routes between India and North America, Austrian Airlines and Finnair.

Scandinavian airline SAS said it only flies to New Delhi and not to Mumbai and has therefore not cancelled any flights to India.

“We put the passagers’ security above everything else, and if there is trouble we will take that decision at that point … as far as I know there haven’t been any incidents in New Delhi,” said SAS spokesman Anders Lindstrom.

In Asia, Australian flag carrier Qantas, which flies three times a week into Mumbai from Sydney, said it is monitoring the situation and working on contingency plans to add capacity if necessary to help get people out of Mumbai.