Turkish Airlines passenger tests positive for Covid-19, return flight departs Changi Airport sans passengers after grounding

A 2019 photo shows the Crowne Plaza hotel, Jewel, and the control tower at Changi airport. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A Turkish Airlines flight that was held at Changi Airport on Wednesday night (March 4) departed at about 2.10am the following morning, with no passengers.

The Straits Times understands that there were 200 passengers affected. Some were put up in hotels while Singapore residents went home. The crew who flew the Boeing 787 back home to Istanbul will be quarantined when they return to the city.

The authorities were concerned after a Covid-19 case was confirmed among passengers who had arrived from Turkey earlier, on the same plane.

The Transport Ministry (MOT) said in a statement last night that the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed late on Wednesday night that one of the passengers on TK54, which arrived in Singapore from Turkey on Tuesday, had tested positive for Covid-19.

The MOH has started contact tracing for flight passengers who may have had contact with the case while the case was infectious.

The MOT, together with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Changi Airport Group, are in contact with and assisting the airline and passengers.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also in contact with the Turkish Embassy on this matter, the MOT statement said.

The Covid-19 outbreak has had a significant impact on the aviation industry.

In a statement on Wednesday, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) reported that while global demand for air travel in January climbed 2.4 per cent compared to a year ago, it was down from the 4.6 per cent year-over-year growth for the prior month.

It is also the lowest monthly increase since April 2010, at the time of the volcanic ash cloud crisis in Europe that led to massive airspace closures and flight cancellations.

Iata director-general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said: "January was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the traffic impacts we are seeing owing to the Covid-19 outbreak, given that major travel restrictions in China did not begin until Jan 23.

"Nevertheless, it was still enough to cause our slowest traffic growth in nearly a decade."

Correction note: An earlier version of the article said all the passengers were tested for coronavirus. The authorities have clarified that they were not. We are sorry for the error.

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