GR News Desk | New Delhi
As many as five pilots of national carrier Air India tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection on Sunday, said a highly placed source in the airlines. The pilots, who tested positive during a pre-flight test, had been a part of the cargo flights which flew to China last month. All are asymptomatic in nature.
“At least five pilots have tested positive. Air India is testing all other pilots, too,” said the source. “However, as more pilots’ tests have come positive, the pilots’ guild has asked the national carrier to replace the medical equipment to ensure it doesn’t have any glitches,” the source added.
The five pilots based out of Mumbai have been immediately put off the roster for further duties.
Meanwhile, Air India has scheduled seven non-scheduled commercial flights from the US to India facilitating the return of Indian nationals, who could not travel due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Indian Embassy in Washington had said in its advisory. The first flight took off from San Francisco on Saturday to Mumbai and Hyderabad. The Air India flight from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey will fly on Sunday, taking back Indian nationals to Mumbai and Ahmedabad under India’s biggest ever repatriation exercise named Vande Bharat Mission’.
Another flight from Newark will fly on May 14 to Delhi and Hyderabad. All passengers will be required to undergo medical screening before boarding the flight and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to travel.
An Air India flight landed in Mumbai from London at 1.30 am on Sunday carrying 239 Indians. The Mumbai airport authorities, in a statement on Saturday, said the arriving passengers with symptoms will be moved to isolation centres.
Asymptomatic passengers residing in Mumbai will be moved to quarantine facilities like hotels, while those from outside the city will be transported by the state to their respective district headquarters.