Air India Express has been temporarily barred from operating to Dubai till October 2 by local civil aviation authorities following two separate instances of the airline carrying COVID-19 positive passengers from India by mistake. The airline has also been told to pay for the costs incurred as a result of the situation.
“We have received ‘Notice of Suspension‘ from Dubai Civil Aviation Authority on September 17, 2020, as per which the Airline’s operations to Dubai Airport is temporarily suspended for a duration of fifteen days w.e.f September 18, 2020,” an Air India Express spokesperson told aviatorsbuzz.com.
In order to mitigate the inconvenience that will be caused to passengers booked to fly to Dubai, Air India Express has introduced additional flights to Sharjah to accommodate the affected passengers. The affected passengers who have booked to fly to Dubai are also being given the option to re-book to a future date.
The notice has been issued on account of erroneous acceptance of one COVID-19 positive passenger by the Airline’s ground handling agents at Delhi and Jaipur on Air India Express flights to Dubai on August 28 and September 4 respectively.
The notice issued by Saood Abdulaziz Kankazar, Executive Director – Air Transport and International Affairs Sector to Mohit Sen, Regional Manager Gulf, Middle East and Africa, also said that Air India Express would have to pay all the expenditure incurred by the respective authorities for medical services and/or quarantine of any passengers and other passengers on that flight and any other expenditure connected thereto.
“As per information gathered, passengers who were seated in close proximity to the COVID-19 positive passenger on each flight had undergone COVID test/quarantined as determined by the Dubai Health authority,” the spokesperson said.
The Air India Express in statement reiterated the instructions to the handling agencies in India to strictly adhere to the regulation/SOP in relation to acceptance of passengers on the Airline’s flights.
“As abundant precaution, the Airline has advised the handling agents to implement a three-tier checking mechanism to avoid any such lapse in the future. Based on the Airline’s communication to them, the concerned ground handling agencies have taken appropriate punitive action against their employees who have been held accountable for the lapse at Delhi and Jaipur,” the spokesperson said.
Air India Express said that prior to the receipt of the Notice, the Airline had submitted a letter to the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority expressing the Airline’s profuse apologies and detailing the various actions taken by the Airline in association with the concerned ground handling agents to guard against such lapse in the future.