Two Indian Airlines Receive Two Week Ban From Hong Kong

Hong Kong authorities have placed a two-week ban on flights from New Delhi operated by Air India. There is also a two-week ban on Air Vistara routes. In Hong Kong, the government claims that the airlines bought at least ten people into Hong Kong who have since tested positive for COVID-19. This is the third time Hong Kong officials have placed a ban on Air India flights.

Air India
Air India has received its third flight ban from Hong Kong. Photo: Getty Images

For the third time in recent months, Hong Kong is temporarily banning Air India from operating any flights into the area. The reason for Air India’s ban is the same as the previous two bans in August and September: the airline is transporting too many passengers infected with COVID-19.

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Hong Kong has kept its borders pretty firmly closed to international travelers since March. Although restrictions loosened in recent months, officials are placing temporary bans on any airlines found to be allowing COVID-positive passengers into the city.

Air India is on its third ban, and according to the South China Morning Post, Vistara has also received a ban. Both airlines were proven to have carried five passengers each on Thursday flights. This number of cases results in an automatic ban by officials. Both bans are set to lift on October 30th.

Vistara 787
Both Vistara and Air India carried five passengers into Hong Kong on Thursday, resulting in ten positive cases. Photo: Vistara

Hong Kong flight bans

Hong Kong’s method of banning individual airlines has received both praise and criticism. For many, especially passengers left stranded because of canceled flights, it seems unfair. However, by placing the responsibility of testing on the airline, Hong Kong may encourage airlines to test passengers more rigorously. Air India’s third ban may show that the system isn’t working.

Passengers arriving from India are required to provide a negative test result before traveling. The frequency with which Air India passengers then test positive calls into question to the accuracy of India’s testing system.

Hong Kong has placed a third ban on the airline to encourage it to provide more thorough passenger testing. India currently testing incoming passengers at the airport but does not test outgoing passengers. Perhaps testing at both ends of the flight will help catch more COVID-positive passengers.

COVID testing at airport
India is considered a high-risk country, so all passengers should be tested before flying. The ban has raised questions regarding the accuracy of testing in India. Photo: Getty Images

High-risk Countries

As Hong Kong sees its number of cases rise slightly, it has also added France and Russia to its list of high-risk countries. The list now comprises 13 countries, including the UK, India, the US, South Africa, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Anyone arriving in Hong Kong from any places identified as high risk must prove their health with a negative test result before traveling. Passengers are also required to quarantine at designated hotels for two weeks upon arrival.

If the number of cases on the island continues to rise, Air India may find its next ban considerably longer than just two weeks. Considering the high number of cases in India, Hong Kong may choose to impose more restrictions on all Indian airlines.

What do you think of Air India’s latest ban? Should Hong Kong impose a stronger ban on the airline or place restrictions on the country? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.