Air India's Vande Bharat Mission flights to and from Hong Kong have been banned by Hong Kong authorities citing "poor pre-flight" testing and allegedly ferrying too many Covid-19 positive passengers. India’s national carrier had to cancel its Delhi to Hong Kong flight on Monday after curbs were placed on it by the city state’s administration.
The Hong Kong government banned the airline for two weeks starting August 18 till August 31 under its Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulations, reported the city-based news daily South China Morning Post quoting government sources.
Hong Kong blamed poor pre-flight testing procedures of the airline after it found 11 Covid-19-positive cases on a Delhi to Hong Kong Air India flight on August 14.
Earlier on Monday, Air India had tweeted, "FlyAI: ImportantUpdate -- Due to restrictions imposed by Hong Kong Authorities, AI 310/315, Delhi -- Hong Kong -- Delhi of August 18, 2020 stands postponed. Next update in this regard will be intimated soon. Passengers may please contact Air India Customer Care for assistance."
Last week, the Consulate General of India, Hong Kong had said Air India is planning to operate two Vande Bharat Mission flights from Hong Kong to Delhi on August 18 and 21.
The Vande Bharat Mission started in early May to evacuate Indians stranded abroad due to travel restrictions in wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
In a weekly briefing held last Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said a total of 10.5 lakh stranded Indians have returned through various modes under the Vande Bharat Mission.