An Air India plane flying from New Delhi to San Francisco was diverted to Russia’s Magadan after it developed an engine problem.
Air India says a reserve plane would take off from Mumbai for passengers whose flight was forced to land at an airport in Russia’s Far East because of engine trouble.
An Air India plane flying from New Delhi to San Francisco was diverted to Russia’s Magadan, a port town on the Sea of Okhotsk, after it developed an engine problem, officials said.
The plane, a Boeing 777 carrying 216 passengers and 16 crew members, landed safely at Magadan airport on Tuesday, Air India said in a statement.
The flight “developed a technical issue with one of its engines,” the statement said, adding that the aircraft was undergoing safety checks and the passengers were being provided support on the ground.
Vedant Patel, a US State Department spokesman, on Tuesday said American citizens were likely on the flight but could not immediately confirm how many. “We are continuing to monitor the situation,” Patel said.
Girvaan Kaahma,16, was travelling on the flight with his uncle and brother. He said they were barred from leaving the hostel where they are staying in Magadan and cannot use their credit cards to buy items from the vending machine because of sanctions over Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Kaahma said the airline told the passengers they would likely leave Russia for the United States on Thursday.
The diversion of the Boeing 777 wide-body aircraft comes a day after the chief of the world’s largest carrier raised safety concerns about airlines flying through Russian airspace with American citizens on board.
“What’s going to happen if an airline lands in Russia with some prominent US citizens on board? That is a potential crisis in the making,” Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines said on Monday.
“I think we should solve it before the crisis happens.”
On Monday, Air India CEO Campbell Wilson defended the airline’s use of Russian airspace, noting the critical role the industry plays in connecting economies, people and cultures.
“Air India, we operate according to the ambit of what is provided to us by the nation of India and not all nations agree,” he said on a panel at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual meeting.
Russia has barred US airlines and other foreign carriers from using its airspace in retaliation for Washington banning Russian flights over the US in March 2022 after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine.
However, Air India and some Gulf-based, Chinese and African carriers continue to fly over Russia, making flying times shorter and US rivals uncompetitive.