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Air India banned from Hong Kong for COVID positive passengers…5 times!

November 25, 2020 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

A report in Simple Flying says that Air India has received its 5th ban from flying to Hong Kong after carrying multiple positive passengers on two consecutive flights, with Air India now barred from flying from Delhi to Hong Kong for two weeks, from November 20th to December 3rd.

The airline has struggled with bans in other countries as well, as cases remain high in India receiving a two-week ban this week after two subsequent flights on November 10th and 17th violated the city’s COVID-19 rules as both flights had three positive passengers, triggering the automatic ban and more passengers on the 17th flight had since tested positive.

With this Air India’s fifth ban from Hong Kong in six months since flights resumed in May, this means the airline will spend roughly 10 of the last 30 weeks under a ban for carrying too many COVID-19 passengers on each flight, with four of these bans have been for the Delhi-Hong Kong route, while one was for the Mumbai-Hong Kong route.

In total, Air India has imported 87 cases to Hong Kong, with the airline received its first ban on August 18th after carrying a startling 16 positive cases on the previous flight, with the next few flights seeing lower numbers but still high enough to trigger a ban.

Considering the recurrence of the ban, Hong Kong might consider stricter pre-flight testing rules, with currently, passengers flying from India must show a negative RT-PCR test taken in the last 72 hours to fly, however, this requirement has still allowed dozens of positive passengers to slip through in the last few months, even on flights to other countries.

Dubai recently made a move to ban tests from specific Indian laboratories, citing them to be inaccurate, with a more long-term solution being to be introducing a pre-flight screening for all passengers, meaning passengers are tested at the airport before boarding using rapid or regular tests. Currently, both Delhi and Mumbai offering airport COVID-19 testing services.

Simple Flying says another important question is who is to blame for these bans: the airline or the passengers and speaking to the Times of India, an Air India spokesperson said, “Only passengers with Covid negative reports are being allowed to board from any destination in India.”  “Another mandatory Covid-19 test is carried out for passengers after landing in Hong Kong and reports of the same may be at variance from the reports of tests conducted 72 hours before taking the flight.” Hence, Air India cannot be held responsible for any lacunae on the issue of passenger test reports.

Simple Flying asks is Air India or passengers to blame for the bans, commenting, while Air India could apply more rigorous testing standards, it is impossible for them to control each passenger’s actions and regardless of who is to blame, Air India must find a better way of testing to avoid yet another ban in the next few months.

A report edited from Simple Flying by John Alwyn-Jones

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