Hotels made hay while airlines felt the heat of volcanic ash

Various hotels, especially around the Delhi airport, saw their room occupancy increasing with cancellation of many international flights due to the Icelandic volcano that disrupted air traffic across Europe last week.

Even five-star hotels saw people extending their stay because there was no way to get out of the country.According to government estimates, there were about 41,435 people stranded in Delhi and Mumbai airports due to the volcanic ash.

"Many of our guests had to extend their stay with us because of flight cancellation. We had given them first priority and preferential prices," Javed Ali, Vice President and General Manager of Radisson hotel near the Indira Gandhi International Airport said.

Asked if any of the airline had contacted the hotel for accommodating the passengers stuck because of flight cancellations, Ali said some did but there were no space available in the 260-room hotel.

Another five star hotel near the airport which had tied up with certain airlines to accommodate the stranded passengers also said it got extra guests.
"However, we also lost our pre-booked guests who were supposed to come in on incoming flights from Europe," an official of the hotel who did not wish to be identified said.

But the smaller hotels really made hay. "Somebody's trouble is always a boon for someone else. The passengers are not sure when they will leave and like in all unexpected situations they always want cheaper accommodations," front office manager of Hotel Saptaghiri in Mahipalpur area said.

He said despite being an off season, his hotel with 75 rooms were running an occupancy of 90-95 per cent even though at an average it should have been about 50 per cent.The story is the same for other hotels too.

"The airlines did not offer me any rooms. I had to call up the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre who helped me out with a room," Brumat Juliano a passenger who was scheduled to fly to Dubai said.Juliano claimed that he had earlier worked in India and had helped build the hospital.

For Dr Bischsel Ulrich, a doctor from Switzerland, there was no option but to look out for cheaper hotel."I was in Chandigarh for some work.I came to the national capital only to catch my flight but now all my plans have gone awry," Dr Ulrich said.

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