The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority revoked its suspension order against Air India Express flights on Friday evening, The Times of India reported. The authority had suspended Air India Express flights till October 2 for transporting coronavirus-infected passengers twice in the past few weeks. The carrier is a subsidiary of government-owned Air India.

“We have apologised for the two lapses to Dubai authorities and assured them of putting in place multilevel strict checks to ensure the same does not get repeated,” a spokesperson for the airline said.
“All AI Express flights from and to Dubai will operate as per original schedule from Saturday.”

An official of the Dubai aviation authority had said earlier in the day that a passenger, who had a Covid-19-positive certificate dated September 2, travelled on Air India Express’ Jaipur-Dubai flight on September 4. “A similar incident had happened with a passenger on one of the airline’s other Dubai flights previously,” the official added. The official had said that the ban on flights would be in place from September 18 to October 2 in view of these incidents.

Passengers travelling to the United Arab Emirates need to carry a Covid-19-negative certificate from an RT-PCR test done 96 hours before the journey, according to the country’s rules.

The aviation authority had also, earlier in the day, asked the airline to submit a detailed report on the corrective actions it has taken to stop the repetition of such incidents before it resumes flight operations, according to The Times of India.

The airline had confirmed the decision of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and said action has been taken against the erring officials. “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,” Air India Express said in a series of tweets.

The airline said it has reiterated its instruction to handling agencies to strictly adhere to guidelines for accepting passengers on flights, adding that the agencies have been further advised to implement a three-tier checking mechanism to avoid the repetition of such incidents.

Earlier on August 17, the Hong Kong government had barred the flights of Air India for two weeks after 14 visitors, travelling to the semi-autonomous region on August 14, tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Hong Kong health department had used the “Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H) on August 17 to prohibit [the] landing of passenger flights operated by Air India for two weeks from August 18 to 31”.

The United Arab Emirates has so far reported 82,568 coronavirus cases and 402 people have died due to the infection, according to the John Hopkins University data. India on Friday recorded 96,423 new cases, taking its overall tally to 52,14,677. The toll went up by 1,174 to 84,372.