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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Hong Kong bars Air India, Vistara flights till Oct 30 after passengers test positive for Covid-19

This is the third time that Air India flights from India have been banned by the Hong Kong government for bringing passengers who tested positive for the infection after arrival.

By: PTI | New Delhi | October 16, 2020 10:35:39 pm
Passengers from India can arrive in Hong Kong only if they have a COVID-19 negative certificate from a test done within 72 hours prior to the journey.

Hong Kong has banned Air India and Vistara flights from October 17 to 30 after a few passengers on their flights tested positive for COVID-19 post-arrival, a senior government official said on Friday.

This is the third time that Air India flights from India have been banned by the Hong Kong government for bringing passengers who tested positive for the infection after arrival. Previous bans were during September 20-October 3 and August 18-August 31.

Vistara’s flights are being banned for the first time by the Hong Kong government during the coronavirus pandemic.

Passengers from India can arrive in Hong Kong only if they have a COVID-19 negative certificate from a test done within 72 hours prior to the journey, according to rules issued by the Hong Kong government in July.

Moreover, all international passengers are required to undergo a post-flight COVID-19 test at the Hong Kong airport.

When asked for a statement on the recent ban on its Hong Kong flights, Air India spokesperson told PTI, “Only passengers with COVID-negative reports are being allowed to board from India (as per the rules of the Hong Kong government).”

Another mandatory COVID-19 test is being carried out for passengers after landing in Hong Kong and reports of the same may vary from the reports of tests conducted 72 hours before taking the flight, the spokesperson noted.

“Hence, Air India cannot be held responsible for any lacunae on the issue of passenger test reports,” the spokesperson added.

Air India has just four flights scheduled for Hong Kong between October 17 and October 30, the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said Air India is following all rules and protocols of the Hong Kong government and they are clearly communicated to passengers on its website.

Vistara did not comment on the ban on its flights to Hong Kong.

Besides India, a pre-flight COVID-19 negative certificate is mandatory for all passengers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa and the US, according to the Hong Kong government”s rules.

An airline operating a flight to Hong Kong from any of these nine countries has to submit a form before departure, stating that all passengers onboard have COVID-19 negative certificates.

“A few passengers who travelled on Delhi-Hong Kong flight of Air India and Chennai-Hong Kong flight of Vistara on Thursday tested positive for COVID-19 post arrival,” the senior government official said.

“Consequently, the flights of these two airlines have been barred from October 17 to October 30 by the Hong Kong government,” the official added.

Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India since March 23 due to the pandemic.

However, the Indian airlines have been permitted to operate special international flights under the Vande Bharat mission since May this year and under the bilateral air bubble pacts since July this year.

Under a bilateral air bubble pact, the airlines of both countries can operate international flights with certain restrictions. India has formed such pacts with approximately 17 countries.

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