United Airlines cancels Delhi flights on air quality concerns


As toxic smog enshrouds India's capital, United Airlines has temporarily suspended all flights between Newark, N.J. and New Delhi through the weekend.

The airline website said that a flight from Newark to Delhi (UA 082) was cancelled due to "severe weather condition in our route network".In an email on November 9, the airline company informed its passengers that travel disruptions were likely due to "air quality concerns" in Delhi.

The spokesperson also said the airline is monitoring advisories as the region remains under a public health emergency, and is coordinating with respective government agencies.

United has operated on the Newark-New Delhi route since 2005 and now offers daily nonstop service on its Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

The airline company now has waiver policies in place for customers who are traveling to, from or through Delhi, informed a United Airlines spokesperson.

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A report on Friday stated that the airlines said it was temporarily suspending all flights to Delhi as the region is under a health emergency. The Airlines has substituted the tickets for November 9 to November 13, and has instead given the customers a chance to rebook tickets on or before 19 November.

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

So far Tour operators were not affected but the Assocham Industry chamber on Friday said foreign tourists might skip Delhi in favor of other cleaner destinations.

The tour operators, however, have not seen any cancellations yet. In the wake of such negative developments, Delhi is bound to drop off the map of global tourists, who might pick "cleaner" South Asian destinations. The carrier operates flights from Newark to Delhi and Mumbai. 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.

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