'Quarantine for air travellers will hit bookings'

Decision of Jammu and Kashmir administration to put air travellers in administrative quarantine has worried the travel agents here who say it will hit bookings badly.

Many ticketing agents told Greater Kashmir that soon after the government came out with an order regarding administrative quarantine on Saturday, many intending air travellers cancelled their travel bookings. “Many of our clients asked us to cancel their bookings.  They don’t want to stay in quarantine for a long period,” said Danish Ahmad, a travel agent.

“Our customers are fine with two or three days of administrative quarantine but the fact their quarantine could extend up to two weeks is unacceptable to them,” he said.

Zahoor Qari, president, Travel Agents’ Association of India, Kashmir Chapter, said the “last minute announcement” of administrative quarantine has taken “everyone by surprise”

“Resumption of air traffic after two months from Monday was a ray of hope for travel industry especially Kashmir-based travel agents who have been suffering since August last year.  But with last minute decision of administrative quarantine, travellers will now think twice before making bookings,” said Qari.

The travel agents said even though airfares to Srinagar for next few days are unusually modest but “it will not able to find many takers now”.

“The protocols and travel guidelines especially 14-day quarantine is something most of our customers are not comfortable with. After the announcement of quarantine, we have been receiving number of phone calls from customers from outside the Valley asking to put their bookings on hold,” said Nasir Shah, a tour agent.  The passenger air traffic is all set to resume operations on Monday after two months of hiatus owing to Covid-19 with 13 flights operating from the Srinagar International Airport.

As per the flight schedule released by Director General of Civil Aviation, 13 out of the 32 routine daily flights at Srinagar Airport will be operating for the next one month. However, while prospective travellers have welcomed resumption of air travel, many have expressed concern over the administrative quarantine.

“I think for passengers travelling by air, 14 days quarantine is unnecessary as they are travelling within 1-2 hrs max. May be they should be given an option of home quarantine (sic),” Behisht, a Kashmiri living in London wrote on Twitter.

When contacted, Director, Airports Authority of India, Srinagar, Santosh Dhoke said they were expecting arrivals of almost 1500-2500 travellers during next two to three days but added that “there could be a drop in number of travellers now”. “This decision ( administrative quarantine) will definitely have an impact on the traveller footfalls. Although there are 13 daily flights, we will now need to wait and see the kind of passenger response to these flights,” Dhoke said.