Russian airline Pegas Fly recently cancelled a flight from Moscow to China after COVID-19 tests of almost 200 passengers were found to be identical.
Chinese officials raised the issue through their embassy in Russia. “On 25 November, when our embassy checked the results of nucleic acid tests and serological tests for antibodies on passengers on Moscow–Zhengzhou flight EO429, Pegas Fly, it was found that the results of a serological test for antibodies in more than 190 passengers on the flight are completely the same,” the Chinese authorities revealed on WeChat. “There is no way to guarantee the reliability of these tests, and as a result, passengers were not able to get a ‘health code’ to board.”
When questioned, the laboratory in charge of the tests was unable to explain the identical test results. Pegas Fly was asked by the authorities to run new tests and accommodate the passengers stranded in the meantime.
China’s CAA had already suspended flights from Moscow to Zhengzhou operated by Pegus Fly, formerly known as Ikar, due to passengers found with coronavirus. China’s embassy also warned that some passengers were able to forge negative COVID-19 results to fly home from Russia, according to the Moscow Times.
As Europe’s airlines such as Wizz Air slowly begin implementing their own tests to kick-start the travel industry, and as governments across Europe struggle to come up with a unified plan, is the Pegas Fly incident a sign of potential challenges that we are all going to face. While it’s easy to look on Russia’s and China’s industry as potentially lacking the ‘medical security blanket’ that many in the West believe is infallible, there are always those that will always seek to abuse the rules to seek a profit. It’s going to be a highly competitive airline market out there in 2021, it’s a case of whether there are enough measures in place to ensure that such incidents don’t occur in the West.

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