Second Italy To India Flight Finds Over 100 Positive Passengers

A EuroAtlantic charter flight carrying 285 passengers from Rome (Italy) to Amritsar (India) was found to be carrying at least 173 COVID-positive individuals – an alarming positivity rate of 60%. This worrying incident comes a day after another charter flight arrived in Amritsar from Milan (Italy). On the January 6th flight, 125 passengers tested positive.

Both flights were operated by the same airline using the same aircraft – a EuroAtlantic Boeing 767-300. Photo: jcornelius via Wikimedia Commons 

Flight details

Reporting from Financial Express revealed that the charter flight on January 6th was operated by Portuguese charter carrier EuroAtlantic Airways. With this information, it was confirmed that the same airline operated the January 7th service from Rome to Amritsar.

According to the Times of India, 285 passengers were onboard the Boeing 767-300 registered CS-TST. Upon arrival in Amritsar, it was noted that at least 210 passengers from the flight were tested, with those tests then being shared with the airport’s director:

“Test results of 210 passengers have been shared with me. Out of them, a total of 173 passengers have tested positive…This flight came from Rome. It landed at around 12.20 pm [Friday] at the airport,” -VK Seth, Amritsar airport director via Times of India

Children or infants are exempt from on-arrival RT-PCR testing, which explains the discrepancy in passengers tested compared with the total number of passengers onboard.

District health authority officials note that all 173 passengers that tested positive had been sent for institutional quarantine at their respective hometown districts.

EuroAtlantic charter flight
The flight from Rome to Amritsar took seven hours. Photo:

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EuroAtlantic’s charter service

Most notably, Friday’s flight is the second “incident” of its kind in as many days where a plane full of travelers arrived in Amritsar testing positive for COVID. Indeed, it was just the day before that a flight from Milan to Amritsar revealed 125 COVID-positive passengers after testing on arrival.

The Thursday charter flight from Milan was also operated by EuroAtlantic Airways using the same Boeing 767-300. Indeed, examining the flight history of this aircraft, it appears that the aircraft has been flying quite frequently between Milan Bergamo or Rome Fiumicino to Amritsar since October 23rd. Examing data, with the two Italian cities combined, service to Amritsar with the aircraft has been almost daily, with a few small gaps of inactivity.

While the customer behind the charter flights has remained undisclosed, the size of the aircraft and frequency of the flights would indicate that a professional tour company is behind the services. This would be something similar to the Neos Boeing 787 service from Vilnius (Lithuania) to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic: A flight that’s only bookable as part of a vacation package and only through a specific travel agency.

Some reporting had indicated that Air India was the airline behind these flights from Italy to Amritsar, causing the airline to publicly refute the claims via its Twitter account, as can be seen in the tweet below:

The high rate of cases discovered on these charter flights highlights the need for regular testing and vaccination. At the same time, the high positivity rate on these flights shows just how prevalent COVID-19 has become, with many experts concluding that the rapid spread of the Omicron variant will expedite the transition from a COVID-19 pandemic to the virus becoming endemic. This means that, instead of large spikes and waves of cases, the virus will circulate regularly through the population, similar to the flu.

What do you think of these Amritsar incidents? Are they cause for alarm? Let us know by leaving a comment.