An Air India flight from India to San Francisco was diverted due to a technical problem with one of the plane’s engines and landed safely at Russia’s Magadan airport in the Far East of the country, according to a statement from the carrier.
Flight AI173 was carrying 216 passengers and 16 crew members. The airline will operate an alternative flight carrying everyone from Magadan to San Francisco on Wednesday.
“Air India will operate an alternative aircraft from Magadan to San Francisco on June 7, 2023 carrying all passengers and crew of AI173 who are currently accommodated in local hotels in Magadan,” an Air India spokesperson said. in a press release.
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“Authorities are extending all cooperation in our efforts to ensure passengers reach their destination safely at the earliest,” the spokesperson added.
Russia has banned many Western countries from operating in its airspace, although some carriers like Air India continue to fly over Russia.
Russia’s Rosaviation agency said on Tuesday it had issued a permit to Air India to send a reserve plane to Russia’s Magadan airport.
“The aircraft’s departure from Delhi to Magadan is scheduled for 9:35 p.m. Moscow time on June 6, 2023, the scheduled landing time is 06:00 a.m. Moscow time on June 7, 2023,” the report said. agency in an updated statement on its official Telegram account.
The United States said it was monitoring the situation. “We are aware of a flight bound for the United States that had to make an emergency landing in Russia, and we continue to monitor this situation closely,” the State Department’s deputy spokesperson said. , Vedant Patel.
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Although Patel could not confirm the number of US citizens on board the flight, he said it was “of course likely that there were US citizens on board”.
Patel also said it would be possible, if necessary, for the United States to take action “to assess manifests and passengers who may be bound for the United States.”
Patel did not say whether the United States would need to exempt aircraft spare parts from Russia sanctions.
The hijacking comes amid a debate over the use of Russian airspace by some carriers.
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Air India’s CEO on Monday defended its use of Russian airspace, telling an airline summit that “we operate in accordance with what is provided to us by the nation of India.”
He added: “Not all countries agree. And so there will be different outcomes as a result. I think we’ve seen over the last few years the consequence of aviation’s inability to connect the people, economies and cultures and supporting all of the other things we produce.”
Meanwhile, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby on Monday predicted the possible dangers of a plane being forced to land in Russia with US citizens on board while speaking to reporters, Reuters reported.
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