A senior cabin crew member of Air India Express was on duty amid the fact that the airlines were informed that it had been checked positive for Covid-19 about 50 minutes before the employee’s flight. Although acknowledging that the employee had tested positive, the airline said that it would further investigate the matter.
The 44-year-old employee had undergone an RT-PCR evaluation on 12 November, a notification obtained prior to the scheduled flight from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport. The crew member’s report and schedule for Friday, 13 November, shows that the employee had also worked in the same sector and had returned to her base station (Delhi) [by way of a return flight].
While the 44-year-old was quarantined on the following day the airline allowed her to fly the whole day on 13 November. India is still facing problems with Dubai and Hong Kong after passengers from India tested positive for Covid-19 after landing there.
An Air India Express spokesperson said, “The said flight was a Delhi-Madurai flight, for which a pre-flight RT-PCR test is not mandatory. The head crew member was to operate the international sector the next day and hence had taken the test. However, she was quarantined from November 14 onwards and no other fellow crew members when tested were found infected. We will, however, surely investigate the matter.” However, the spokesman did not confirm whether or not the affected employee was symptomatic.
Sources reported that officials were attempting to exploit the employee’s reporting data in the scheduling system and said The system no longer revealed that this senior employee had undergone an RT-PCR test on 12 November, which meant that there would have been no on-record evidence (of the test performed) if the test documentation had not been obtained. Tampering already logging in to the data is unconstitutional.
“It’s true that a crew member can operate few domestic flights until his/her test reports are awaited. This is done in order to avoid a situation of crew shortage for airlines. But, it is completely unacceptable that an airline got the crew member tested only two days before her international flight (as per the statement by the airline, the crew had to operate an international flight on November 14) and also goes ahead, allowing her to operate flights even when she is confirmed to be Covid-19 positive.” said a senior personnel from Air India
The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) had previously suspended Air India Express flights between India and Dubai on 2 October, which had been revoked on the same night. The suspension notice was given after a positive Covid-19 passenger was identified on a Jaipur-Dubai flight. Air India Express had apologised to DCAA before receiving the letter, and the airline and the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) had to hold talks with the Dubai authorities, after which the suspension order had been lifted.