Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Air India pilot operating repatriation flight remains in hotel quarantine in Sydney after testing positive to COVID-19

An Air India pilot who operated the special flight from New Delhi on June 20 carrying 164 passengers tested positive to COVID-19 after landing in Sydney.
Air India officials claim the pilot was rostered to work the special flight to Sydney last week only after he returned a negative test four days prior to departure in line with the carrier’s COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Senior Air India officials said the pilot tested positive upon landing in Sydney on Saturday.
“The pilot was tested on June 16 and was found negative. That is why, as per the rules, he was rostered for the Delhi-Sydney flight of June 20. Before the flight, his sample was taken again. He was found positive after landing the flight in Sydney,” the officials said.
The said pilot was reportedly on standby to operate another international flight but was asked to fly the Delhi-Sydney flight last minute after the Captain rostered to work the flight to Australia called in sick.
Australian resident Jaspreet Singh who was returning home on the same flight said over an hour into boarding the flight, an announcement was made in the aircraft informing that the flight would be delayed by a few more hours owing to “operational issues concerning the pilot.”
“The flight was scheduled to take off from New Delhi at 1:55 pm (IST), but only flew at 7:30 pm. It was delayed by nearly six hours. Initially, the boarding was delayed, and we were told that they were waiting for clearance from engineers,” said the 31-year-old.
“Once we had boarded, an announcement was made from the cockpit saying that the Captain who was rostered to fly the plane was not available due to operational reasons and that we would have to wait till a replacement arrives.”
The pilot remains in hotel quarantine in Sydney along with two cockpit crew members.

Responding to SBS Punjabi’s query, an NSW Health spokesperson confirmed that “the pilot, crew members and passengers are all in hotel quarantine.”

The cabin crew, however, was allowed to operate the return leg of the flight to Delhi after taking mandatory tests, according to a statement issued by Air India.
24/06/20 Avneet Arora/SBS Punjabi

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