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Airlines Brace For 15% Cancellations

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Foreign as well domestic airlines expect a 15 per cent fall in their passenger load factor (PLF) due to cancellations, even as they try to get their schedules back to normal.

Since yesterday, several carriers, mainly international, have cancelled their flights in and out of Mumbai due to sparse load factor or the inability of the crew to reach the airport. Most airlines, however, said that flight movements will be normal from Friday.

Air France and Northwest Airlines crew were unable to reach the airport as they were lodged in the Oberoi Trident which was attacked by terrorist. As a result, the two airlines have clubbed some flights, according to airport sources.

Lufthansa, which also cancelled one of its flights from Mumbai, today did not give any indication when flights will be normalised. A Singapore Airlines spokesperson, while admitting that there were substantial cancellations for the morning flight today which went on schedule, said it will continue flying in and out of Mumbai.

Amongst the domestic carriers, Kingfisher Airlines combined around eight flights. Air India also clubbed some of its flights in the domestic routes. Jet Airways, JetLite, IndiGo and SpiceJet did not cancel any flight.

Jet Airways however advised its passengers to carry valid photo-identification and report at the airport well before the scheduled departure.

According to aviation experts, Thursday’s attacks will further dent the sliding load factors which have been hit by the economic meltdown. The airlines are clocking loads of merely 63 per cent in the peak season where they used to get at least 85-90 per cent for some of the low-cost carriers. Meanwhile, Tata Steel’s board meeting tomorrow has been called off. Corus members, including CEO Philippe Varin, landed in Mumbai this morning but took the next flight back.

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