Air India relief flight carrying engineers to leave for Russia in afternoon

Passengers accommodated in a school due to infrastructure limitations in Russian town

Air India. Photo: Bloomberg

Air India. Photo: Bloomberg

Aneesh Phadnis Mumbai

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An Air India relief flight with engineers will leave for Magadan in Russia at 1 p.m to rectify the engine snag in its Boeing 777 aircraft that was diverted on Tuesday.

Originally, the relief flight was supposed to leave from Mumbai last night. However, it was pushed to the early hours of Wednesday. The departure was postponed again and is now scheduled for afternoon.

A source said it has taken longer to secure all overflying and landing clearances for the relief flight. 

The airline also took approval from its insurers for the flights to and from Magadan which will ferry 216 stranded passengers.

Air India stopped flights to Moscow last March following Russia's attack on Ukraine. The service was suspended due to challenges in securing insurance cover, media reports had said.

Air India's Delhi-San Francisco flight was diverted to Magadan due to a suspected leak in its engine.

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After a six hour wait inside the aircraft passengers were allowed to deboard and were accommodated in a school. 

"Given the infrastructural limitations around the remote airport, we can confirm that all passengers were eventually moved to a makeshift accommodation, after making sincere attempts to accommodate passengers in hotels locally with the help of local government authorities," Air India said in a statement.

"As we do not have any Air India staff based in the remote town of Magadan or in Russia, all ground support being provided to the passengers is the best possible in this unusual circumstance through our round the clock liaison with the Consulate General of India in Vladivostok, Ministry of External Affairs (Government of India), local ground handlers, and the Russian authorities," they added.

The diversion of Air India aircraft came a day after United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby raised safety concerns about airlines flying through Russian airspace with American citizens onboard.

" Whats going to happen if an airline lands in Russia with some prominent citizens on board? That is a potential crisis in the making,"  Kirby had said, according to a Reuters report.

In a statement engine manufacturer "GE Aerospace is aware of the diversion of Air India flight AI172, and we are working to support our customer to resolve the issue."

First Published: Jun 7 2023 | 10:32 AM IST

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