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Stranded In Russia, 216 Air India Passengers Wait For Replacement Aircraft

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A replacement aircraft bound for Russia’s Magadan on Wednesday to fly out stranded passengers was delayed.

A relief aircraft will depart from Mumbai at 1 pm for Russia’s Magadan to take stranded Air India passengers to San Francisco, Air India sources said today. 

An Air India flight which was headed to San Francisco from New Delhi, was diverted to Magadan on Tuesday after it developed an engine issue.

A replacement aircraft bound for Russia’s Magadan on Wednesday to fly out stranded passengers was delayed as Air India officials were working through regulatory issues in order to operate the flight.

According to sources, several stranded Air India passengers in remote Magadan, which is over 10,000 km from Russia’s capital Moscow, are being housed in dormitories because hotels in the area are unable to accommodate everyone on the flight.

Ministry of Civil Aviation sources have said that the ministry is closely watching the developments in the remote Russian city.

“Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia is closely monitoring the situation. We are in touch with the airline,” a civil aviation ministry source said. “Air India is sending a relief aircraft B777-200LR VT-ALF as ferry with men and material on board for recovery of VT-ALH. The aircraft VT-ALF will take passengers from Magadan to San Francisco International Airport. The tentative departure of VT-ALF from Mumbai is today at 1 pm IST.”

“Air India has informed us that they’re taking care of passengers – local government is helping with accommodation. Passengers have been moved to a school close to the airport. The Indian embassy has also been contacted to provide food & essentials,” the source added.

Air India’s flights into the US West Coast while flying east across the Pacific Ocean give the carrier a massive advantage over other airlines that cannot presently operate over Russian airspace. This, however, comes with its own set of challenges, which Air India is aware of.

Emergency or precautionary landings in remote Russian airports with upwards of 200 passengers onboard its Boeing 777-200LR aircraft is a scenario that Air India management knows to be potentially problematic – available infrastructure on the ground being a big concern.

The United States meanwhile said that it is “closely monitoring” the situation.

“We are aware of a US-bound flight that had to make an emergency landing in Russia and are continuing to monitor that situation closely. I’m not able to confirm how many US citizens were aboard the flight at this time,” US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said.

“It was a flight that was bound for the United States. So, it is, of course, likely that there are American citizens on board. There’s public reporting from Air India that they are sending – what my understanding is – a replacement aircraft to the destination to have the passengers carry on for their route, but I would defer to the air carrier to speak to anything further on this,” Mr Patel added.

The Air India plane was carrying 216 passengers and 16 crew members.

Source By : NDTV

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