Passengers Test Positive For COVID-19 After India Resumes UK Arrivals

Four passengers on a London to Delhi flight have tested positive for COVID after services resumed between the two countries. India banned flights from the UK in late December after the spread of the new strain of the virus became clear. Flights resumed on January 8th, after two weeks, with strict testing and quarantine rules.

Air India 777-300ER
Flights from the UK to India resumed on Friday. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

New cases

According to NDTV, four passengers tested positive for COVID-19 upon their arrival in Delhi from London on Sunday. Under the current rules, every passenger flying to India must bring a negative test report to the airport and will be tested upon arrival in India.

The information about the four new cases was reported by Genestrings, the test providers for Delhi Airport. There were 186 passengers onboard the flight on Sunday, all of whom will undergo a seven-day institutional quarantine.

Air India 777-300ER
All arriving passengers will undergo testing on arrival and hotel quarantine. Photo: Vincenzo Pace |

Genestrings also highlights that testing for all 186 passengers was complete in four hours. Passengers have to wait in the terminal until their test results come back negative.

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90 cases

While flights from the UK have only just resumed, India has already detected 90 cases of the UK strain of the virus in the last few weeks. This isn’t surprising considering the traffic between India and the UK, which sees thousands of passengers daily.

Considering India’s declining cases, governments have been quick to order quarantines on returning passengers. However, it should be noted that quarantine rules change by the state of landing, which means Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore may have different rules.

British Airways 777
India has already detected 90 cases of the UK variant of COVID-19. Photo: Getty Images

To combat rising cases, India has reduced the number of weekly flights from the UK to India from 60 to 30 every week, according to Business Standard. This means the available flight frequency between London and India has fallen significantly.

Four airlines currently operate routes from India to the UK: Air India, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Vistara. Airlines from both countries will receive 15 weekly flights each, which will hurt the flag carriers. Previously, British Airways flew 29 flights a week, Air India flew 23 flights, Virgin Atlantic eight, and Vistara five. However, these figures will now likely fall proportionately.

International recovery

The recent ban on UK flights has once again impacted India’s struggling international flight recovery. After briefly making a 40% recovery in early December, the UK ban pushed the industry under this mark once again, according to data from RadarBox.

The UK’s surging caseload also means that passenger demand will remain extremely low for the coming months, with only essential travel allowed. However, the mass rollout of a vaccine in the UK could improve the situation relatively soon.

Planes parked Mumbai
International flights out of India remains well below the 40% mark compared to 2019 levels. Photo: Getty Images

India will also begin its mass vaccination drive on January 16th, with plans to reach 300 million residents in the next few months. This means international travel could resume by the end of 2021 if things go well.

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