First Air India evacuation flight carrying 219 Indians from Ukraine lands in Mumbai; 2 more flights on course

February 26, 2022 0 Comments


India

pti-Deepika S

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New Delhi, Feb 26: Air India’s first evacuation flight departed today evacuated 219 people as part of its mission to bring Indians from war-hit Ukraine.

Representational Image

The airline’s two more evacuation flights — one for Bucharest and one for Hungarian capital Budapest — departed from Delhi on Saturday.

The aircraft, which had taken off from the Henri Coanda International Airport, Bucharest, Romania this afternoon, brought home 219 passengers, mostly students from India.

Piyush Goyal said “glad to see the smiles on the faces of Indians safely evacuated from Ukraine at the Mumbai airport”

Goyal asked the returning passengers to speak to their friends still in Ukraine and reassure them not to worry. He said the Government is working in mission mode to ensure safety of our citizens. The Minister said that PM Shri Narendra Modi has spoken with the Ukrainian President and stressed about the safety of Indian citizens. The Minister informed that the Russians have also promised to help evacuate all Indians.

Goyal said more evacuation flights are being operated and the second flight is likely to land in Delhi in the wee hours of Sunday.

The Minister whole heartedly thanked Air India for its commitment to the national cause, which was met with an applause by all the homecoming passengers.

External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr S Jaishankar also took to Twitter to welcome Indians, including students, who returned to the country on Saturday.

Large number of relatives of homebound passengers were present at the arrival concourse of the Mumbai airport to receive their near and dear ones.

The second evacuation flight AI1942 and third evacuation flight AI1940 are expected to return from Bucharest and Budapest, respectively, to the Delhi airport on Sunday morning, they mentioned.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Twitter that AI1944 flight with “219 Indian nationals has taken off from Romania”. “Regarding evacuation of Indian nationals from Ukraine, we are making progress. Our teams are working on the ground round the clock. I am personally monitoring,” he added.

The Ukrainian airspace has been closed for civil aircraft operations since February 24 morning and therefore, the evacuation flights are operating out of Bucharest and Budapest.

Around 16,000 Indians, mainly students, were stranded in Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had said on February 24.

Prior to the closure of the Ukrainian airspace, Air India had operated a flight to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on February 22 that brought 240 people back to India. It had planned to operate two more flights on February 24 and February 26 but could not as the Russian offensive began on February 24 and the Ukrainian airspace was consequently shut down.

Air India said on Twitter on Friday night that it deploy B787 aircraft from Delhi and Mumbai to Bucharest and Budapest on Saturday as special government chartered flights to fly back stranded Indian citizens. The Indian embassy in Ukraine on Friday said it is working to establish evacuation routes from Romania and Hungary.

“At present, teams are getting in place at the following check points: Chop-Zahony Hungarian border near Uzhhorod, Porubne-Siret Romanian border near Chernivtsi,” it said.

Indian nationals, especially students, living closest to these border checkpoints are advised to depart in an organised manner in coordination with teams from the Ministry of External Affairs to actualise this option, the embassy said. Once the above-mentioned routes are operational, the Indian nationals travelling on their own would be advised to proceed to the border checkpoints, it noted.

The embassy advised Indian travellers to carry their passports, cash (preferably in US dollars), other essential items and COVID-19 vaccination certificates to the border checkpoints. “Print out Indian flag and paste prominently on vehicles and buses while travelling,” it said.

The distance between Kyiv and the Romanian border checkpoint is approximately 600 km and it takes anywhere between eight-and-a-half hours to 11 hours to cover it by road. Bucharest is located approximately 500 km from the Romanian border checkpoint and it takes anywhere between seven to nine hours by road. The distance between Kyiv and the Hungarian border checkpoint is around 820 km and it takes 12-13 hours by road.





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