March 22, 2018

United Airlines cancels Delhi flights on air quality concerns

12 November 2017, 03:55 | Lena Norman

See how bad Delhi's pollution

See how bad Delhi's pollution

United Airlines on Saturday temporarily suspended its Delhi-bound flights from Newark, USA, citing "poor air quality" - the first cancellation of an global flight after pollution levels rose in the national capital with air quality index reaching the "severe" category. No spokesperson was available to speak about the change of events and the airline's transfer of its booked passengers to other airlines.

While the US-based airline was earlier offering waivers on rescheduling of tickets, it has now made a decision to cancel its Newark-Delhi flights on Friday and Saturday (arriving Saturday and Sunday nights). India's capital, with 18 million residents, has some of the world's most polluted air.

Mumbai: The bad air quality in Delhi which has entered the red zone is starting to have an impact on tourism as well since one of the flights scheduled for national capital Delhi with United airlines canceled its flight for two days. "We are monitoring advisories as the region remains under a public health emergency and are coordinating with respective government agencies", United Airlines spokesperson said.

The "foreign travel advice" section of the United Kingdom government's website,, says, "Severe air pollution is a major hazard to public health in Delhi, and a serious concern in many Indian cities". Farms in nearby towns have also contributed to the pollution problem, as farmers illegally burn crop residue to clear fields, reports NDTV.

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A photo of New Delhi Streets taken November 8, 2017.

Officials have likened the city's poor air quality to smoking multiple packs of cigarettes a day, as the season's cold air catches pollutants at the ground level and stops them from dispersing into the air. Weather related issues are usually on top of the list, but even there, cancellations are mostly attributed to freak storms, rain, and wind.

Besides hampering visibility on road, the situation has become a public health emergency, and prompted schools to shut down in its wake. "Closing down all offices".

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