Air India flight returns as Ukraine closes airspace

Air India flight returns as Ukraine closes airspace

Russia-Ukraine conflict: The second flight to Ukraine was airborne at 7:41 am on Thursday. 

An Air India flight that had gone to Ukraine to bring back stranded Indians has returned to Delhi due to Notice to Air Missions (NOTAMs) at Kyiv. The second flight to Ukraine was airborne at 7:41 am on Thursday. 

The first flight from Ukraine had returned on Tuesday at 11:40 pm, carrying 240 passengers. The flight, AI 1946, had taken off from Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv at around 6 pm (Indian Standard Time), and landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at around 11.40 pm.

The unsuccessful second flight returned to India after Ukraine closed its airspace. Ukraine State Air Traffic Services Enterprise said on its website that the country's airspace was closed to civilian flights on Thursday and that air traffic services had been suspended. 

"In particular, there is a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft. The presence and possible use of a wide range of ground and airborne warfare systems poses a HIGH risk for civil flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels," the agency said in a conflict zone bulletin.

Air India had announced on February 18 that it would operate three flights on February 22, 23 and 24 amid escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine. This came as India urged its students in Ukraine to leave the country immediately. "Our focus is and remains on Indian citizens, Indian students, Indian nationals rather than anything larger than that and in terms of what we need to do to ensure that they are safe," Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said at a press briefing.

The government had also issued advisories for Indians in Ukraine to leave the country temporarily. It asked “Indian nationals whose stay is not deemed essential and all Indian students” to leave Ukraine temporarily. 

It had asked Indian students to get in touch with their respective student contractors for updates on charter flights and to follow the Embassy’s Facebook, website and Twitter for further updates. 

Also read: Air India’s first Delhi-Kyiv flight to land at 10:15 pm; see details

Also read: Air India to operate India-Ukraine flights next week amid rising tensions