Rescue Ops: Air India's special flight from Ukraine to arrive tonight
New Delhi, February 22, 2022
The first Air India flight ferrying Indian citizens from Ukraine is expected to arrive at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport on Tuesday night.
The Tata Group-led Air India's special flight to Ukrainian capital Kyiv took-off at 7.30 a.m. on Tuesday.
The flight is expected to land at T3, IGI Airport, around 10.15 p.m. with full capacity.
According to industry insiders, the flight is ferrying a full load of over 250 passengers on Air India's Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
The airline will be operating two more flights to Kiev on February 24 and 26.
Besides Air India, other Indian operators are expected to start special flight services to Ukraine.
The development assumes significance as Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of troops into two separatist areas within Ukraine, after recognising their independence, a move that some fear puts Kyiv and Moscow one step closer to a military conflict.
Last week, the Centre removed the restrictions on the number of flights and seats between India and Ukraine, evidently to facilitate the return of Indian students and professionals stranded in the east European nation due to the ongoing tensions with Russia.
"The Ministry of Civil Aviation has removed the restrictions on the number of flights and seats between India and Ukraine under the 'Air Bubble' arrangement," the ministry said in a statement last week.
Thus, any number of flights, including charter flights, can operate between the two countries now.
"Indian airlines have been informed to mount the flights due to increase in demand. The ministry is facilitating in coordination with the Ministry of External Affairs," the statement added.
The Centre, through an advisory, had asked Indians in Ukraine to leave the country, but reportedly there were no flights available before February 20.
In view of the prevailing situation in Ukraine, a control room has been set up at the Ministry of External Affairs to provide information and assistance to the stranded Indians.
India and Ukraine have a travel bubble agreement under which a certain number of flights can operate per week. The bubble agreement was inked when international travel was suspended in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.