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Air India shuts down 5 stations in Europe over revenue loss amid Covid outbreak

New Delhi: Air India has decided to stop flights to at least five European destinations owing to a drop in passenger carriage that was resulting in loss of revenue in view of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

This comes as the latest impact of the outbreak on India's aviation sector.

Future flights of the national carrier to Madrid, Milan, Copenhagen, Vienna and Stockholm have been scrapped with immediate effect since it was not financially viable for Air India to operate on these routes.

An internal note circulated by the Commercial Division of Air India states: "In view of the COVID situation, it has been approved by competent authority to close down following stations and become offline."

It further read: "The current IBOs (international booking offices) are to be recalled to India and the station will be handed over to GSA (general sales agent) after completion of formality of closure." A tweet from a national news agency on Wednesday stated: "In view of #COVID19, Air India (AI) has decided to close down its stations in Vienna, Milan, Madrid, Copenhagen, & Stockholm. AI would immediately initiate action for closure in consultation with local lawyers & advise the timelines by which the stations will be closed."

Air bubbles have been created by India with the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany and UAE. Till schedule flights resume, people can travel between India and these countries under this interim arrangement. With no air bubble so far with Spain, Austria, Denmark and Sweden, flights to Madrid, Vienna, Copenhagen and Stockholm made little commercial sense.

India has begun lifting restrictions on the categories of people who can travel to and from the bubble countries.

The IATA (International Air Transport Association), in its forecast in July had stated that global passenger traffic (revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) will not return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2024, a year later than previously projected.

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