KOCHI: The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority has banned Air India Express from operating flights to the airport for 15 days for carrying a passenger who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 for the second time.
In view of the ban, Air India Express has rescheduled all Dubai bound flights to Sharjah. As per the notice served by Dubai authorities, the airline had carried a COVID positive passenger on board the Jaipur-Dubai flight on September 4. The airport had served another notice to the national carrier on September 2 for boarding a COVID positive passenger, posing a health risk to others on board.
“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/or protocols relating to air travel to and from airports in the Emirate of Dubai, during the Coronavirus SARS Cov2 pandemic. Therefore, all operation of Air India Express to Dubai Airports is temporarily suspended, for a duration of 15 days, effective from 18th September until 2nd October," the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority said in the notice.
Confirming reciept of ‘Notice of Suspension’, Air India Express said it has been issued on account of erroneous acceptance of one COVID positive passenger each by the airline’s ground handling agents at Delhi and Jaipur on August 28 and September 4 respectively. As per information gathered, passengers who were seated in close proximity to the COVID positive passenger on each flight had undergone tests and were quarantined as determined by the Dubai health authorities.
The airline has reiterated the instructions to the handling agencies in India to strictly adhere to the standard operating procedures in relation to acceptance of passengers on its flights. As an abundant precaution, the airline has advised the handling agents to implement a three-tier checking mechanism to avoid any such lapse in the future, it said in a press release.
Based on the airline’s communication, the ground handling agencies concerned have taken punitive action against their employees who have been held accountable for the lapse at Delhi and Jaipur, it said.
In order to mitigate the inconvenience caused to passengers who booked seats to fly to Dubai, the airline has introduced additional flights to Sharjah. The affected passengers who have booked tickets to Dubai will also be given the option to rebook to a future date.