New Delhi: Hong Kong has banned Air India’s Vande Bharat mission flight from flying to and from the city for two weeks due to COVID-19 related issues, reported news agency ANI. The restriction will be in effect from August 18 to August 31. The authorities have cited poor pre-flight COVID-19 testing as the reason behind suspending the flights. Also Read - International Flights: Saudi Arabia Permits Outbound Passenger Flights to India Under Vande Bharat Mission
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong government source said, “The fact 11 passengers tested positive on the same flight shows the lab tests back in India are not very reliable… The airline has to do deep cleaning [on its planes] and make sure it won’t happen again on future flights before they can be resumed.” Also Read - International Flights: Now Indians Can Fly to Japan, UK, Canada And 10 Other Countries | Who is Allowed & Who is Not? Read Detailed SOPs
On the other hand, Air India was planning to operate two Vande Bharat Mission flights from Hong Kong to Delhi on August 18 and 21. Also Read - Air India Employees to Receive PF Dues Within 30-60 Days | Read Here
“Passage on these flights would be on payment basis as per fares decided by Air India and would be subject to an undertaking to be provided by passengers to abide by all protocols framed by Government of India including quarantine on arrival in Delhi on payment basis,” Consulate General of India, Hong Kong had tweeted.
In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 50,000 people across the country, the Narendra Modi-led Centre government has started the ‘Vande Bharat’ mission, to help stranded people reach their destinations using special repatriation flights.
“Nearly one million stranded Indians have returned through various modes under VBM and more than 130K have flown to various countries. Driven by the aspirations of our people, the mission continues to facilitate repatriation and outbound travel of stranded and distressed citizens,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said.