Air India banned from operating flights to Hong Kong for the fifth time due to CoVid-19 cases on board.

When it comes to tackling the CoronaVirus, some countries have done much better than the others. This, in spite of their economies taking the hit for it. Singapore and Hong Kong are two such examples which have very much contained their pandemic and are allowing people to enter their countries in a very limited number, Singapore after much vetting before giving them a pass to get on board.

In Hong Kong, for Indians specifically, amongst some other countries, the Government of Hong Kong SAR needs a CoVid-19 negative certificate (RT-PCR) with a sample collected no more than 72 hours prior to departure, and also agreeing to quarantine in a designated hotel for 14 days before getting out in the country. The operator of the specified aircraft, for instance, Air India, needs to submit to the Department of Health (DH) before the flight arrives at Hong Kong a document confirming that each relevant traveller has, before being checked-in for the flight to Hong Kong on that aircraft, produced for boarding on the aircraft the documentary proof to show that the above conditions are met.

In spite of carrying a CoVid19 negative certificate, there is a second test which is done on arrival in Hong Kong, at the airport itself. Only those who come clear (CoVid-19 negative) on arrival, are allowed to continue to the hotel for their compulsory 14-day quarantine.

In Hong Kong, authorities will ban a route for 14 days if at least 5 passengers on a single flight are identified as infected on arrival, or if three or more passengers are found to have contracted the CoVid-19 virus over two consecutive flights from a location.

a cityscape with lights at night

With these rules to determine cases being carried into Hong Kong, Air India has become a repeat offender of sorts.

Hong Kong has banned Air India flights from Delhi between November 20 and December 3, 2020, after a few passengers on its flight tested positive for the novel coronavirus post-arrival. This is the fifth time Air India’s flights from India have been banned by the Hong Kong government for bringing passengers who tested positive for the pathogen after arrival. The previous bans on the airline’s Delhi – Hong Kong flights were from August 18-31, September 20-October 3 and October 17-30, and on its Mumbai-Hong Kong flights during October 28-November 10. This ban, however, is not unique to Air India. Vistara also got banned once.

However, as per Air India, the ban is no good, given they don’t have any flights planned into Hong Kong during this period.

I don’t think this is a situation where Air India really is at fault, because they have to depend on tests by the passengers for CoVid19 negative certification and are not really moving forward with testing customers for the virus on its own pre-departure, because there is no requirement at the moment to do so. With India being so bad with the CoVid-19 situation, it could very well happen that the coronavirus exposure happens between the test sample collection and the time of departure.

What do you think of Air India getting caught again and again with passengers who are exposed to the Virus on board?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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