Concerns of poor air quality over Delhi have prompted foreign governments to put out travel advisories and led to at least one international airline, the US-based United Airline, temporarily suspending its flights citing “severe weather conditions”.
“United has temporarily suspended our Newark-Delhi flights due to poor air quality concerns in Delhi and currently has waiver policies in place for customers who are traveling to, from or through Delhi. We are monitoring advisories as the region remains under a public health emergency, and are coordinating with respective government agencies,” United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said in reply to an e-mail query sent by The Sunday Express. United’s flights on this route were cancelled on Friday and Saturday.
The ‘foreign travel advice’ section of the UK government’s website, gov.uk, says, “Severe air pollution is a major hazard to public health in Delhi, and a serious concern in many Indian cities. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected.”
Similarly, the website of the US embassy in New Delhi has termed the air quality in New Delhi, based on PM 2.5 levels, as “hazardous”; the effects of which, the website said, could be “serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly; serious risk of respiratory effects in general population,” adding that “everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion”.
United Airline, while issuing a travel waiver for its customers with tickets to Delhi from November 9 through November 13, said customers could re-book these tickets on or before November 18 at no additional cost. On its website, United said, “When severe weather or other major events… impact our operations, we sometimes issue travel waivers to allow you to change to alternate flights without paying a change fee.” Apart from Delhi, United also flies from Newark to Mumbai. The flights on this route have not been cancelled.