Services to Hong Kong curtailed

MUMBAI APRIL 9. Given a big drop in the number of passengers flying to and from Hong Kong due to theSevere Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) threat, Air India will now operate only two flights — on Mondays and Fridays — to that country during this month.

In addition, the airlines would ensure that the crew are not exposed to SARS. Two sets of crew would travel on board each flight and each of them would operate in one direction, avoiding an overnight stay in Hong Kong.

The services of the executive staff would be utilised as the Indian Pilots Guild and the AI Cabin Crew Association have asked its members not to fly to Hong Kong. ``There was no rationale in the directive,'' the airline said.

The scope for exposure to SARS has been ``further minimised'' with a pre-check-in examination of passengers and only when the doctors are satisfied are they allowed on board. Effective tonight, passengers will have to give basic information on the health cards.