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Air India flight with eight passengers returns to Delhi as Ukraine closes airspace

The flight was on its way to bring back hundreds of Indians, mainly students who were stranded in Ukraine


A Staff Reporter

Published: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 4:04 PM

The Air India flight that took off from Delhi at 7.30am on Thursday for Borispol airport in Kyiv, Ukraine, had three young students.

They were all headed to join their college and were not aware of the crisis that had rocked the nation, with the Russian attack since early morning.

“I want to become a doctor," Sonam Sangwan, 21, told another passenger on board the flight. "I am a little bit worried but if I don't go, I will miss my year, so it's best that we go, enrol ourselves and come back.”

She had been joined the Vinnytsia National Medical College. The two other passengers on board the 256-seat Boeing 787 Dreamliner were also part of the group heading to Ukraine to join their college.

In total, there were eight passengers on board the aircraft, besides 28 crew members. And one of the passengers was Vishnu Som, prominent news anchor and executive editor with NDTV 24x7. Som revealed the highlights of the aborted journey to Ukraine on his blog on Thursday: ‘On board Air India flight that never made it to Ukraine.’

“It's not often that any airline flies a 256-seat jetliner commercially with just eight passengers on board,” he wrote. “But this is different.”

The flight was on its way to bring back hundreds of Indians, mainly students who were stranded in Ukraine.

But it had to return to India shortly after crossing Iranian airspace, when the captain announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your commander from the flight deck. I regret to inform you that the company has been in touch and we have been advised to return to Delhi because the airspace over our destination has now been closed. We will land in Delhi in about two hours.”


The three girls were dejected as their plans got scuttled because of the trouble in Ukraine. “As we landed in Delhi, I saw one of the young students I had spoken to,” recalled Vishnu. “She had a tear running down her cheek.”

Speaking to the young students, he realised education came first for them, “war or no war. But Sonam and her friends will have to wait. As will I.”

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