The Indian government’s evacuation effort to bring back stranded citizens affected by the Ukraine-Russia conflict is in full swing. The rescue mission, which started with Air India, has been boosted by India’s largest airline, IndiGo, with chartered flights bringing back as many Indians as possible.
IndiGo joins the mission
The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has left many Indian nationals (mostly students) fleeing to neighboring countries for safety. The Government of India had initially planned several Air India flights to bring back some citizens directly from Ukraine, but only one of those flights could successfully carry out the mission due to the closure of Ukrainian airspace.
As part of the Indian government’s ongoing Operation Ganga mission, IndiGo has joined Air India in bringing back Indians who have managed to cross the Ukrainian border to enter neighboring countries.
The LCC has planned 20 flights to Hungary, Romania, and Poland over a period of four days from February 28th to March 3rd. So far, IndiGo has managed to bring back 1300 Indian citizens, with more scheduled to arrive today. Apart from bringing back evacuees in the return leg via Istanbul, some of these flights also carried relief material during their onward journey to Budapest and Rzeszow.
Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, President and Chief Operating Officer of IndiGo, commented,
“We are pleased to contribute towards repatriation efforts of the Indian government. Our flights aided in the safe return of over 1300 Indian citizens from Budapest, Bucharest, and Rzeszow to Delhi so far and expect this number to go up with 14 more flights over the next two days. We would like to extend our gratitude to the operations team who have selflessly come forward to be a part of this mission, enabling the safe return of stranded citizens back to their homes. We will continue to contribute to the country in its time of need.”
The airline has deployed its A321s on the mission. So far, six flights have come back, out of which four landed with more than 850 Indian citizens on March 2nd. The passengers were received by several cabinet ministers, including Dr. Jitendra Singh – Minister of State PMO and Ms. Smriti Irani – Minister of Women and Child Development.
Six flights are expected to land on March 3rd, with eight more departing on the same day to bring back more evacuees. Four of the last eight flights will depart from New Delhi – two each to Budapest (Hungary) and Rzeszow (Poland) via Istanbul – and four from Mumbai – two each to Bucharest (Romania) and Suceava (Romania) via Istanbul.
Situation so far
Ukraine has been a popular destination for many Indian students, particularly those studying medicine. Anticipating the situation to worsen, the Indian government had scheduled several AI flights to bring back citizens.
However, things got trickier when Ukraine closed its airspace, bringing an abrupt halt to that plan. Since then, the Indian Government has launched an airlift operation to bring back citizens who managed to escape to countries like Romania and Hungary.
Thankfully, Air India now has help from IndiGo and even the Indian Air Force, all joining hands to bring back stranded citizens to the safety of their home country.
The airline has been in preliminary talks with lessors for 10 to 20 of the long-range narrowbodies.
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