In a seemingly unprecedented move, the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) is asking Air India Express to reject COVID test results from four specific laboratories in India. This request comes after the Indian carrier transported two passengers with COVID-positive test reports on separate occasions. This is the first incident we’ve seen where a civil aviation authority has identified and essentially blacklisted labs and their testing services.
Test results from four labs to be rejected
On September 28th, Air India Express posted an announcement to Twitter indicating that regulatory authorities in Dubai are recommending that the airline reject RT-PCR test reports from four laboratories in three Indian cities. The labs are as follows:
- Suryam Lab in Jaipur,
- Microhealth Lab in Kerala,
- Dr. P Bhasin Pathlabs (Private) Limited in Delhi,
- and Noble Diagnostic Centre in Delhi
There haven’t been any specific reasons provided for why these particular laboratories were named. However, we can assume that it has to do with the credibility and reliability of test results – as it is the single most crucial factor. Simple Flying contacted the DCAA requesting more information on this situation but has yet to hear back from the government body.
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The Air India Express Twitter post does provide a list of recommended labs for COVID testing through the Pure Health laboratory company. This Middle Eastern laboratory group has its own list of approved sites within India and can be found through the website https://screening.purehealth.ae/ – which appears to show over 100 locations across the country.
— Air India Express (@FlyWithIX) September 28, 2020
Air India Express service to Dubai banned for one day
Air India Express came under fire on September 18th after the DCAA issued a notice banning the carrier for 15 days. In the statement, the DCAA said that the airline knowingly carried two COVID-19 positive passengers, risking the safety of all those onboard the flight.
The first infected passenger flew on August 28th, while the second on September 4th. The notice indicates that the second passenger 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 India Express allowed them to board the aircraft and complete their journey.
Just hours after handing down the ban to Air India Express, the DCAA revoked the notice – likely due to successful negotiations and resulting policy revisions.
The Air India Express policy on test results for UAE travel
Passengers flying to the UAE are required to take a COVID-19 RT-PCR test not more than 96 hours before departure. This 96-hour time frame for accepting the COVID-19 RT-PCR test starts from the date of sample/ swab collection. The airline goes on to outline the authentication requirements:
“For passengers traveling to Dubai, the COVID-19 RT-PCR negative test report must have the name and contact details of the providing laboratory/ health institute. The report must be in English or translated to English and must be signed and stamped by a Healthcare provider. Damaged reports will not be accepted.”
It also adds that test results should not be handwritten or have corrections. Furthermore, photocopies of the results will not be accepted.
The full details of Air India Express’ COVID test policy can be found on their website’s blog post on the topic.
Simple Flying made attempts to contact the laboratories named in the announcement. At the time of publication, no responses were received from any of the parties contacted.