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June 6, 2002 | 1152 IST
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'Outbound traffic rise because of holidays'

BS Economy Bureau

War clouds have not sent international carriers into a spin, unlike the popular perception. Though most carriers agree that there has been a slight increase in outbound traffic, they attribute this more to the holiday season than the current India-Pakistan standoff and to some extent, the travel advisories issued by some countries. The inbound traffic remains unaffected, they maintained.

Some airlines like Cathay Pacific said there was an increase in the percentage of diplomats travelling out. "Though there has been no significant jump in outbound traffic, yet the number of expatriates travelling out has noticeably increased," said Ramen Roy, sales manager, Cathay Pacific.

This has been buttressed by the fact that the schedules for conferences and conventions have also not been impacted at all.

While Sita has received just one cancellation for a conference in September, Taj Palace, having one of the biggest convention facilities, has not received any cancellations as of now. On a same note Rohita Jaidka, commercial manager, corporate communications, Air-India, said this was the season when diplomats and other expatriates generally went home for holidays, so this movement was not extraordinary. She said for Air-India there have been no significant changes in traffic pattern.

However Alok Sawhney, commercial manager India, of British Airways said "the outbound traffic has increased for British Airways due to the mixed effect of the holiday season and possibly the current standoff," The only sign of panic according to Virgin Atlantic spokesperson was shown through queries to confirm bookings.

Interestingly the domestic carrier Sahara Airlines said that its traffic had dropped slightly last week with the war hysteria touching a peak. "We saw a five per cent increase in bookings today as compared to last week , which could be attributed to the toning down of the aggressive posture of the two countries," said Alok Sharma, vice-president, corporate strategy & commercial of Sahara airlines.

According to Jaidka while it is business as usual now the busy October-March tourist season could be severely affected if the situation flares up again later.

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