Spicejet blamed Croatian authorities for changing orders mid-air and insisting on RTPCR negative tests
New Delhi: Pilots flying a SpiceJet flight had no option but to spend 21 hours resting in the aircraft in the Croatian Capital Zagreb after authorities there refused to allow them to get off the plane as they did not have a RTPCR negative certificate. The airline blamed Croatian authorities for changing orders mid-air and insisting on RTPCR negative tests after initially saying it was not required. The aircraft was apparently on a charter flight SG-9035 on May 11 on the New Delhi-Tbilisi (Georgia)-Zagreb ( Croatia ) sector with two sets of Cockpit crew . Aviation regulator DGCA has “admonished” the airline for the incident, a DGCA official said on condition of anonymity. SpiceJet had approached the DGCA for permission since the rest for the pilots was not in a suitable environment as mandated by India’s Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR).
When contacted, a SpiceJet spokesperson said, “Prior to departure from India, e-mail confirmation was received from Croatian authorities that RTPCR is not required for Crew. On arrival in Zagreb, Crew was told that orders have changed. Due to sudden and massive increase in COVID cases in India, they have now been instructed that RTPCR is required. This came as a surprise.”
The SpiceJet Spokesperson added, “Since the Crew could not fly back immediately due FDTL restrictions, bedding, food and water was provided in the aircraft. The Aircraft was cleaned. DGCA permission was obtained. Crew rested in the aircraft for 21 hours (as mandated by regulation). They then flew back to Delhi. All crew confirmed that they were comfortable and happy with the arrangements.”
SpiceJet had also decided that the return flight to Delhi would be operated without passengers or cargo and had obtained its crew consent.