Air india Express aircraft lands in Kerala
Air India Express has been blocked from touchdowns at Dubai airport. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: The 15-day suspension of Air India Express operations to Dubai Airports was ordered after the airline’s ground handling agents in India allowed passengers tested positive for COVID-19 to board flights to Dubai twice, the airline has confirmed.

In the wee hours of Friday, Gulf News broke the news that Air India Express flights to and from Dubai have been suspended for 15 days from September 18 till October 3.

See more

Sources said that all operations of the low-cost subsidiary of India’s national carrier Air India to Dubai International Airport were suspended from midnight and flights scheduled on Friday were getting rescheduled to Sharjah International Airport.

The airline today confirmed that it received a “Notice of Suspension” from Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) on September 17, as per which its operations to Dubai Airports were temporarily suspended for a duration of 15 days with effect from September 18.

“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 August and 4th September respectively. 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,” Air India Express said in a statement.

The airline said it has reiterated the instructions to the handling agencies in India to strictly adhere to the regulations and SOPs in relation to acceptance of passengers on its flights.

Corrective and punitive measures

“As abundant precaution, the airline has advised the handling agents to implement a three-tier checking mechanism to avoid any such lapse in the future,” it stated.

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

Prior to the receipt of the DCAA notice, the airline had submitted a letter to the DCAA expressing its profuse apologies and detailing the various actions taken by the airline in association with the ground handling agents concerned to guard against such lapse in the future, the statement added.