On September 18, (Friday) morning, Dubai had suspended Air India Express flights flying into the city for the next 15 days starting from September 18, until October 2 due to a COVID-19 situation. It was reported that the Air India Express flew passenger with COVID-19 positive certificate from Delhi.
This is the second time that the airline has been reported of carrying a COVID positive person, the first being from Jaipur to Dubai on September 4.
According to the latest rules as outlined by the UAE Government, passengers must have a COVID-negative certificate to fly to the country. Each passenger travelling from India needs to bring an original COVID-negative certificate from the RT-PCR test done 96 hours before the journey.
In a statement later during the day, Air India Express confirmed it had received a ‘notice of suspension’ from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) on September 17 to suspend its Dubai flights from September 18 to October 2.
Passengers who were seated in close proximity to the COVID positive passengers had to undergo a COVID test and quarantine. Furthermore, the DCAA has asked AI Express to pay for the medical services, and quarantine expenditure of the passengers on that flight.
Air India Express’ ground handling in India is done by Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL), which is a subsidiary of the national carrier Air India. The entire incident has been the onus of the handling agencies at the airports in India. The handling agencies have been asked to work with caution, and to put in place a three-tier checking mechanism so that such mistakes are not repeated in the future. As an ‘abundant precaution’, the carrier said it has advised its handling agents to implement a ‘three-tier checking mechanism’ to avoid any such lapse in the future.
However, late on Friday evening, Air India Express in their evening tweet said that all flights are to resume to/from Dubai as per schedule. Guesses are that the decision has been made after a lot of deliberations.
Also, an airline’s spokesperson said, “We have apologised for the two lapses to Dubai authorities and assured them of putting in place multi-level strict checks to ensure the same does not get repeated. (Accordingly) all AI Express flights from and to Dubai will operate as per the original schedule from Saturday (September 19).”