Air India to operate flights to Romania, Hungary to bring back Indians stranded in Ukraine
New Delhi, February 25, 2022
Air India today said it would operate flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Bucharest in Romania and Budapest in Hungary to fly back Indians who were stranded in Ukraine, which is under attack by Russian forces.
The airline said on Twitter that the B 787 aircraft would operate as special government charter flights. The flights will have a capacity of about 250 passengers.
Romania and Hungary share land borders with Ukraine and many Indians, including students, have made their way across the border to these countries.
"Air India has always been playing a pivotal role, standing by the nation during any crisis and now, inspired by the common mission shared by the Tata group and AI of serving the nation & its people first, our employees are only too eager to respond to the call of our nation, driven by our values and conviction that 'if we don't do it then who will?'," the statement added.
The airline had operated one flight on Tuesday and brought back 242 Indians from Ukraine. It had scheduled more flights later in the week but they had to be cancelled after the closure of Ukrainian airspace. One flight had to return to Delhi on Thursday.
The Government has said that the Indian Air Force was also ready to fly its aircraft to bring back stranded Indians.
The Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday that the first batch of evacuees from the war-hit nation has reached Romania via the Suceava border crossing.
"The MEA team at Suceava will now be facilitating their travel to (Romania capital) Bucharest for their onward journey to India," said MEA spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi.
The government has arranged two Air India flights to ferry them back from Bucharest on Saturday, sources said.
The Indian Embassy in Ukraine is working on evacuation routes from Romania and Hungary and the teams are present at Chop-Zahony Hungarian border near Uzhhorod, and Porubne-Siret Romanian border near Chernivtsi.
Scores of stranded Indian students have taken shelter in different schools across Ukraine to evade bombing.
Earlier on Friday, Indian authorities had told the students living near the Hungarian and Romanian borders to depart first in an organised manner in coordination with the teams officials who have moved to the borders from neghbouring Poland, Hungary and Romania.
A 20-year-old medical student, Ankit Kumar, who's stranded in Kiev, told IANS that thousands of Indian students from different cities of Ukraine are running from pillar to post to get help to leave the country.
"Finally today, many of them could come together in schools in different Ukraine cities with the help of the Indian Embassy," Kumar said.