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Omicron: Bengal government to suspend direct flights from UK

Kolkata airport officials said that the Air India flight from London was the only one from an at-risk country to the city

Sanjay Mandal | Published 31.12.21, 02:05 PM
No-objection certificates issued for flights from any other at-risk country stand withdrawn.

No-objection certificates issued for flights from any other at-risk country stand withdrawn.

File photo

The Bengal government has informed the civil aviation ministry that direct flights from the UK to Kolkata would be suspended from January 3, citing the global and national rise in omicron infections.

Kolkata’s sole weekly direct flight from the UK — an Air India flight from London — arrives every Sunday. The next Sunday is January 2.

Bengal home secretary B.P. Gopalika’s letter to the Union ministry said that every international passenger, even those from countries listed by India as “non-risk” for Omicron, would be made to undergo a Covid test on arrival.

“…The state government has decided to temporarily and until further orders suspend all direct flights from United Kingdom to Kolkata with effect from 3rd January, 2022,” said the letter to Rajiv Bansal, civil aviation secretary.

No-objection certificates issued for flights from any other at-risk country stand withdrawn. Kolkata airport officials said that the Air India flight from London was the only one from an at-risk country to the city.

Gopalika’s letter said that all international passengers, who must undergo a Covid test on arrival from January 3 at their own cost, have to book the test before boarding to reduce the waiting time at Kolkata airport.

“The airlines will randomly select 10 per cent of the passengers for RT-PCR test and the balance 90 per cent shall undergo Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) at the arrival airport,” it said. “Those found positive in the RAT will have to further undergo RT-PCR tests as may be required by the health authorities.”

The letter asked that the holding capacity at the international arrival lounge be augmented and the number of counters increased. “We have to increase manpower at the arrival lounge for conducting the tests,” said C. Pattabhi, the airport director.

Till now, RT-PCR and Rapid PCR tests were being conducted. “Now we have to fix a rate for the Rapid Antigen Test too,” Pattabhi said.

Last updated on 31.12.21, 02:05 PM
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