In a dramatic 24 hours, Air India Express was banned from flying to Dubai for a day. The carrier received a 15-day ban yesterday for knowingly carrying a COVID-19 positive passenger. However, the ban was later revoked, meaning that Air India Express was only banned from Dubai for a day. So what exactly happened?
Carrying an infected passenger
Air India Express came under fire yesterday after the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) issued a notice banning the carrier for 15 days. In the notice, the DCAA said that AI Express knowingly carried two COVID-19 positive passengers, risking the safety of all those on board the flight.
The first infected passenger flew on August 28th, while the second on September 4th. The notice details the second passenger, who flew on IX 1135 from Jaipur to Dubai. The passenger had a COVID-19 positive certificate from two days before the flight, on September 2nd, yet Air Express let them fly.
Air India Express’ failure to stop these passengers from flying caused them to receive a 15-day ban from the DCAA. This is not the first time Air India has received a ban for carrying COVID-positive passengers. Last month, Hong Kong banned Air India flights for two weeks after 11 passengers tested positive on arrival despite pre-flight testing requirements. However, this time, the ban didn’t last too long.
The Notice has been issued on account of erroneous acceptance of one Covid positive passenger by the Airline’s ground handling agents at Delhi and Jaipur on Air India Express flights to Dubai on 28th Aug and 4th Sept respectively.
— Air India Express (@FlyWithIX) September 18, 2020
Just hours after handing down the ban to Air India Express, the DCAA revoked the notice. It’s unclear why Dubai revoked the ban on Air India Express flights, although according to The New Indian Express, it came after AI Express held talks with the DCAA and made changes to their policies.
Air India Express flights to Dubai will resume with effect from today, September 19th, effectively making it a one-day ban on the low-cost carrier. Dubai is one of the biggest travel markets from India and has been at the center of the Vande Bharat repatriation mission.
In addition, Air India Express has said it has taken punitive action against the ground employees in Delhi and Jaipur, who allowed the passengers to fly. They will implement a “three-tier checking mechanism” in the future to prevent such a lapse, the exact details of which are currently unclear.
This isn’t the first time AI Express has been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. In early August, an AI Express flight from Dubai crashed while trying to land in Kozhikode Airport in bad weather.
The crash resulted in 20 fatalities, including both the pilots, and is under investigation by Indian authorities. Since then, widebody planes have been banned from landing on the tabletop runway at Kozhikode airport during the Monsoon season (although the aircraft in the crash was a 737).
India’s aviation regulator, the DGCA, has also started an audit of all Indian carriers to ensure compliance of all safety rules. The current crisis has seen cost-cutting and many airline staff sent on unpaid leave, which could cause safety lapses.
For now, Air India Express has managed to avoid a ban to its most popular destination. However, it also highlights the lapses the airline must fix to safely operate in these difficult times.
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