Hong Kong Authorities have banned Air India and Vistara to operate flights till October 30 after multiple passengers have been tested positive for COVID-19. This is the third time that Air India flights have been banned by the Hong Kong government for bringing passengers who tested positive for the infection after arrival. Previous bans were during September 20 to October 3 and August 18 to August 31.
As per the guidelines issued by the local authorities, all incoming passengers in Hong Kong need to have a COVID-19 negative certificate from a test done within 72 hours prior to the journey, without which, airlines can stop them from boarding a flight.
Air India and Vistara are yet to issue a statement in this regard. "A few passengers who travelled on Delhi-Hong Kong flight of Air India and Chennai-Hong Kong flight of Vistara on Thursday tested positive for COVID-19 post arrival," the senior government official said.
"Consequently, the flights of these two airlines have been barred from October 17 to October 30 by the Hong Kong government," the official added. A similar incident was reported last month when Dubai authorities banned Air India Express from flying for few days after two passengers were found COVID-19 positive. However, the authorities later allowed the airline to operate flights with a warning issued.
As per the UAE government rules, each passenger travelling from India need to bring original COVID-negative certificate from RT-PCR test done 96 hours prior to the journey.
The said passenger flew on the AI Express Jaipur-Dubai flight IX 1135. Air India Express later fired employees of ground handling company for the oversight.
Under a bilateral air bubble pact, the airlines of both countries can operate international flights with certain restrictions. India has formed such pacts with approximately 17 countries.