On June 6, Air India plane AI 173, flying from Delhi to San Francisco, was forced to divert and made an emergency landing in Magadan, Russia. In a press release, the Tata Group-owned private carrier said that this landing was made due to a technical issue in one of its engines. The flight is carrying 216 passengers and 16 crew members.
The Air India flight landed safely, and with the help of local authorities, the passengers were accommodated in hotels and other makeshift accommodations. Magadan is a remote port town and the administrative centre of Magadan oblast. The carrier is working round the clock with the “Consulate General of India in Vladivostok, Ministers of External Affairs (India), local ground handlers and the Russian authorities” as there are no Air India representatives in Russia.
Air India has confirmed that a ferry flight has taken off from Mumbai airport at 1300 hours IST on June 7. The flight is carrying food and other essential items for the passengers. However, this ferry flight will be subjected to necessary regulatory clearances for taking passengers and crew members to San Fransisco.
As per Russia’s aviation authority, Rosaviatsia is checking the plane’s technical condition and has permitted an alternate flight’s landing. The aviation authority also confirmed, “At present, the question of passengers’ stay and accommodation is being resolved by border, customs and regional authorities”.
The stranded Air India flight is a Boeing aircraft. The plane was built in the United States, and the engines are from General Electric. The diversion had raised concerns about the repair of 200 million dollars Boeing 777 because of the US and EU sanctions on the supply of aviation items to Russia.
Due to the war, the issue of the use of Russian airspace has also sparked concerns. The United States states that the authorities are closely monitoring the situation as the flight may have US citizens on board on June 6.
While interacting with the media, the Deputy Spokesperson of the State Department, Vedant Patel, said, “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”.
He added, “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”.