Dubai calls off all Air India Express flights, revokes it laterUpdated: Sep 18, 2020, 23:33 IST
Hours after the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) suspended Air India Express flights between India and Dubai, the biggest city in the United Arab Emirates, from Friday to October 2, the ban was withdrawn in the evening. The flights were suspension notice was issued after a passenger on a recent Jaipur-Dubai flight operated by Air India Express, the low-cost airline of national carrier Air India, was found to be Covid-19 positive by DCAA authorities. This was the second time the airline flew an infected passenger.
The suspension notice had stated that the flight IX1135 operated by the airline from Jaipur to Dubai International Airport (DIA) had a passenger who had contracted Sars-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19.
“You are aware of our previous intimation made to you by our letter dated September 2 for boarding a passenger with a Covid-19 positive test result, who endangered the other passengers on board and also caused a serious health risk. Boarding a passenger with Covid-19 positive test result for the second time is contrary to and is in violation of the laid-down procedures and protocols relating to air travel to and from airports in the Emirate of Dubai during the pandemic,” stated the notice.
While Air India Express had submitted an apology to DCAA before getting the notice, the airline and the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) held discussion with Dubai authorities in the matter, following which the suspension order was lifted.
Though Air India Express did not issue a fresh statement, its tweet read, “All Air India Express flights from/to Dubai will operate as per original schedule w.e.f tomorrow, September 19, 2020.”
Airline officials said the airline is playing a key role in flying repatriation flights between India and Dubai and operates around 15 daily flights between the two countries.
The airline has apologised for the erroneous acceptance of Covid-19 positive passenger by the airline’s ground handling agents on Air India Express flights to Dubai on August 28 and September 4.
Aviation expert and former defence pilot Vipul Saxena said, “Though MoCA through diplomatic channel managed to revoke the UAE ban on Air India Express to fly to Dubai, at the same time MoCA must also review the recent order which virtually allows every international passenger to board from last foreign destination without having done RT-PCR 96 hours before boarding. After seeing strict actions by other countries, I hope MoCA reviews its recent order and allows passenger to fly without RT-PCR only under unavoidable circumstances and also treat them on board as infected patients, in terms of seating separately and also serve inflight service by exclusive crew, so that other healthy passengers aren’t risked.”
With the rules for international arrivals relaxed in India, passengers are allowed to get themselves tested for Covid-19 once they land at Indian entry airport where testing facility is made available in case the passenger did not get tested within 96 hours before departure.