The Airport Authority on Friday blamed Emirates for the stranding of 11 mainland travellers at the Hong Kong airport for five days, saying it’s “unacceptable” that the airline had failed to comply with regulations.
The mainland passengers had been allowed to board flight 380 from Dubai to Hong Kong last Saturday even though under coronavirus restrictions, the mainland currently doesn’t accept any transit flights via the SAR.
The passengers were never issued boarding passes for their onward flights – another requirement under current transit restrictions.
They were also exposed to the new coronavirus during their flight – as 26 passengers on the same flight subsequently tested positive for Covid-19 here.
Amid a growing furore over how the potentially infected passengers could have been left to wander the restricted area of the local airport for five days, the Airport Authority issued a statement placing the blame squarely on Emirates.
It said the authority had clearly informed all airlines to comply with travel restrictions before restrictions on transit flights were eased on June 1.
It said carriers were told they must ensure at the port of origin that any passengers transiting through Hong Kong are allowed to enter their ultimate destination.
“It is the responsibility of airlines to understand entry restrictions and quarantine requirements of different destinations in order to avoid passengers being stranded at Hong Kong International Airport”, the statement said.
“In this incident, Emirates Airlines did not comply with the relevant regulations. This is not acceptable.”
The authority has issued new reminders to all airlines to comply with the rules.
It said the Civil Aviation Department has written to Emirates to demand an explanation, and the airline has responded by saying it will take the necessary steps to avoid a recurrence.
One of the stranded passengers agreed to fly back to Dubai on Wednesday, while the rest refused the offer, and were sent to quarantine on the same day.
The authority said it “understands” that all ten of the passengers who are still in Hong Kong have all tested negative for Covid-19.
All areas that the travellers had been in have been thoroughly cleansed and disinfected, the statement said.
In future, any stranded passengers would be placed in a quarantined area, where they would have no direct contact with other passengers or airport staff.
The authority said the airline involved would be responsible for delivering food and drink to the passengers, and swiftly arrange for them to return to the port of origin.
Emirates airline blamed for stranding 11 passengers
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