United Airlines cancels Delhi flights due to air quality

See how bad Delhi's pollution

See how bad Delhi's pollution

The Delhi smog has also forced United Airlines to cancel two flights from Newark, the USA, to the national Capital on Friday and Saturday. United operates 267-seat Boeing 777 aircraft on the route, with a journey time of over 14 hours.

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The spokesperson also said the airline is monitoring advisories as the region remains under a public health emergency, and is coordinating with respective government agencies. They issued a travel waiver on Thursday according to which customers travelling to Delhi between November 9 to November 13 can book a comparable ticket leaving on or before November 18 at no additional cost. In an email on November 9, the airline company informed its passengers that travel disruptions were likely due to "air quality concerns" in Delhi. 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. "However, there have been no cancellations in bookings", said Dipak Deva, managing director of inbound tourism division, Thomas Cook group. "Even domestic tourists are avoiding Delhi".

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Flights between Newark, New Jersey and New Delhi are canceled until at least Monday, after evaluations found the air quality to be 75 times the World Health Organization's safety levels.

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Similarly, the website of the United States 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". One Delhi official said that the pollution is so bad that the city has turned into a "gas chamber".

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