Air India Express flights to and from Dubai temporarily suspended

Friday's flights were rerouted to Sharjah but services to Dubai will resume from Saturday

All Air India Express flights to and from Dubai were suspended for one day. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons /  Aero Icarus
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Dubai Civil Aviation Authority temporarily banned all Air India Express Flights to and from the emirate on Friday.

The suspension, which was initially due to last 15 days from Friday, September 18 until Friday, October 2, came after the airline transported a passenger who had tested positive for Covid-19 to the emirate.

Hours after the suspension was announced, Air India Express confirmed it had been lifted.

In a statement posted to Facebook, the airline said: "All Air India Express flights from/to Dubai will operate as per original schedule with effect from tomorrow September 19".

The DCAA had previously issued a notice to the airline on September 2 after another of its passengers travelling from India to Dubai tested positive for the virus.

On Friday, Air India Express confirmed it had transported two passengers with Covid-19 from India to Dubai.

"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," it said on Twitter.

"As per information gathered, passengers who were seated in close proximity to the Covid positive passenger on each flight had undergone Covid test / quarantined as determined by the Dubai Health authority.

"The Airline has reiterated the instructions to the handling agencies in India to strictly adhere to the regulation / SOP in relation to acceptance of passengers on the Airline’s flights."

The statement added that the airline has instructed handling agents to implement a three-tier checking policy to "avoid such lapses" in the future.

"Based on the Airline’s communication to them, the concerned ground handling agencies have taken appropriate punitive action against their employees who have been held accountable for the lapse at Delhi and Jaipur," the statement adds.

The airline also confirmed it had sent a letter to DCAA prior to the notice being issued to offer its "profuse apologies".

The National has approached the DCAA and Air India Express for further comment.

All Air India Express flights on Friday, September 18 from DXB were cancelled. Dubai Airports
All Air India Express flights on Friday, September 18 from DXB were cancelled. Dubai Airports

Air India Express's two scheduled flights from Dubai International Airport on Friday to Dehli and Mangalore have been cancelled. A member of staff at the airline's Sharjah office told The National that all of Air India Express's inbound flights to Dubai on Friday were being rerouted to Sharjah International Airport.

The DCAA has instructed Air India Express to pay all expense incurred by the relevant authorities, as well as any medical bills or quarantine costs of other passengers on the flight, as well as any other expenses incurred.

It also advised the airline that it will need to submit a “detailed corrective action/procedure” plan to prevent the same thing from happening again.

Air India Express has been operating flights between India and the UAE under the two countries' air bubble agreement. It has been repatriating a number of passengers to India as part of the Vande Bharat Mission, and has been flying passengers eligible to return to the UAE back from India.

The UAE government rules dictate that all passengers travelling from India need to show an original negative certificate from a PCR test done no more than 96 hours prior to the flight.

The temporary ban comes after Hong Kong suspended all Air India flights on August 19 until August 31 due to a number of passengers testing positive for the virus after arriving on one of its flights.