Hong Kong has banned Air India flights from Sunday to October 3 after a few passengers on its flight on Friday tested positive for COVID-19 post arrival, a senior government official said on Sunday. Air India passenger flights were barred from landing in Hong Kong between August 18 and August 31 after 14 passengers on its Delhi-Hong Kong flight of August 14 tested positive for COVID-19 post arrival.
Passengers from India can arrive in Hong Kong only if they have a COVID-19 negative certificate from a test done within 72 hours prior to the journey, according to rules issued by the Hong Kong government in July.
Moreover, all international passengers are required to undergo a post-flight COVID-19 test at the Hong Kong airport.
A spokesperson of the national carrier confirmed the recent order, saying, "Hong Kong has prohibited Air India for two weeks -- September 20 to October 3."
"There is only one flight scheduled in the two weeks -- the Delhi-Hong Kong flight of September 21. That flight is cancelled and the passengers have been informed," the spokesperson added.
Air India Express had on Friday said its flights were suspended for 24 hours by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) for bringing two passengers with COVID-positive certificates on August 28 and September 4.
Air India Express, which is a subsidiary of Air India, resumed its Dubai flights on Saturday.
According to rules in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), every passenger travelling from India is required to bring an original COVID-negative certificate of an RT-PCR test done within 96 hours prior to the journey.
"A few passengers on a September 18 Delhi-Hong Kong flight tested positive for COVID-19 post arrival," the senior government official said.
"As a result, Air India's flights have been banned from September 20 to October 3 by the Hong Kong government," the official added.
Besides India, a pre-flight COVID-19 negative certificate is mandatory for all passengers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa and the US, according to the Hong Kong government's rules.
An airline operating a flight to Hong Kong from any of these nine countries has to submit a form before departure, stating that all passengers on board have COVID-19 negative certificates.
Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India since March 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, special international flights have been operating with the approval of aviation regulator DGCA.
Air India has been operating special international flights since May 6 under the Vande Bharat Mission to help stranded people reach their destinations.
Since July, India has established separate bilateral air bubble arrangements with countries such as the US, Germany, France, the UAE, the UK and the Maldives for international flight operations.
Under a bilateral air bubble pact, the airlines of both countries can operate international flights with certain restrictions.