NEW DELHI: Hong Kong has for the fourth time suspended Air India flights, now till November 10, after some passengers from India tested Covid positive on arrival there. This time the ban is reportedly on flights from Mumbai alone.
The Chinese special administrative region’s (SAR) third ban for AI and Vistara flights is between October 17 and 30. During this period (on October 25) a flight was allowed to operate on Mumbai-Hong Kong route and five passengers tested positive on arrival, say officials. Hong Kong suspends flights of any airline whose five or more passengers test positive on arrival, for two weeks.
An AI official said: “Five passengers of an October 25 Mumbai-Hong Kong AI flight tested positive (on arrival in) Hong Kong. These passengers had submitted Covid negative test reports from labs recognised by ICMR before boarding. Hence, they were accepted on the flight. However, they were found to be Covid positive when tested by Hong Kong authorities on arrival.”
“As per Hong Kong regulation, in case any airline has five or more Covid positive passengers on a flight, that airline is barred from bringing any passengers from the same origin to Hong Kong for 14 days. Hence our flight from Mumbai to Hong Kong is banned from October 28 to November 10, 2020. Incidentally we do not have any flight scheduled to Hongkong too in the coming days,” the AI official added.
According to the Chinese special administrative region (SAR) rules, passengers travelling to Hong Kong require a Covid negative test report conducted 72 hours prior to the scheduled time of departure.
“…as a responsible airline, AI is strictly conforming to (all) rules and protocol. 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,” said the AI official.
AI was earlier stopped from flying to Hong Kong from August 18-31 and then from September 20 to October 3. All international passengers are tested on arrival at Hong Kong airport.
In these days of extremely limited connectivity with Hong Kong, some passengers take flights from India to Kuala Lumpur and then take connecting flights to Hong Kong from there.
Last month, some passengers flew AI Express from India to Kuala Lumpur and from there they took a Cathay Dragon flight to Hong Kong where they tested positive on arrival. Hong Kong then stopped Cathay Dragon flights to and from Kuala Lumpur for some time due to this reason.
Air India Express has advised passengers in a tweet that “passengers travelling on (its) flights to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) must ensure that their final destination should be Kuala Lumpur itself. Passengers who intend to travel onward via KUL should not book with us due to Covid-related travel restrictions.”
#FlyWithIX : Attention passengers traveling to KUALA LUMPUR ⚠️ https://t.co/KMIHLsZwmD
— Air India Express (@FlyWithIX) 1603629726000