United Airlines, the fourth largest airline in the world in terms of passengers carried, has suspended its flights from Newark, New Jersey to New Delhi, India for the weekend (Nov. 9th – Nov. 13th) due to toxic smog levels being present in the city.
United normally operates one daily flight from its primary east-coast hub of Newark, New Jersey to Delhi aboard a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft as flights UA82/83. The flight connects two Star Alliance hubs in Newark (United) and Delhi (Air India).
Over the last week, weather services claim New Delhi’s air quality is the worst its been so far this year, and over 75 times the World Health Organization’s safety levels concerning breathing and health concerns.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Punjabi Bagh, downtown Delhi, at 4:55 a.m. local time Sunday, is at 907, nearly 10 times the worst the air quality got in Canada during the British Columbia wildfires this past Summer.
Environmental officials in India have compared the air quality to that as if you were to smoke two packs of cigarettes, with the season’s cold air catching pollutants at ground level and preventing them from dispersing into the air. Schools have been closed, trucks prevented from being used, and industrial activity has been stopped in the wake of the record-high air quality.
A flight advisory has been posted on United’s website, allowing passengers to waive the “change fee and any difference in fare” for United flights departing “on or before November 18, 2017, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.”
Travelpulse.com reports, “Exacerbating the problem are farmers from nearby regions who are illegally burning their crop fields, with the resulting smoke winding its way into and settling within the capital. Adding to the situation, Delhi, known for its minimal public transportation infrastructure, is faced with worsening pollution from vehicular traffic as well as smoke and exhaust from numerous construction sites throughout the area.”
The Indian Government recently mulled a plan to spray water over the city to combat the toxic smog, and just today mulled another plan that required those with private vehicles to drive only every other day.
Delhi has become a gas chamber. Every year this happens during this part of year. We have to find a soln to crop burning in adjoining states
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 7, 2017
No other airlines have cancelled flights yet, but many are likely to over the coming days due to aircraft performance being affected by the adverse air conditions.
Featured photo: IBTimes.com