When it comes to humanitarian missions, Air India is the first port of call for the Government of India, given their state-owned status. And they deliver, always.
However, last evening (on August 15, 2021), Air India operated what could be their last commercial flight out of Kabul, inevitably for the time being. It was supposed to be a normal day, in spite of the situation that was changing by the minute in Afganistan. Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport was still open for business, and scheduled flights were operating normally. AI243 Delhi – Kabul, operated per its normal schedule with an Airbus A320neo, and the first hint of trouble came in just about as the flight was about to land. They went into a holding pattern but eventually made it to the ground at Kabul Airport albeit a bit delayed than the original schedule. The flight into Kabul had 40 passengers on board.
Even on the way back, it seemed all was normal. More crowded airport for sure, but things were moving. AI244 was bringing home 129 passengers back to Delhi.
AI 244, Air India’s flight with 129 passengers from Kabul landed in Delhi on Sunday evening, after departing from Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport at 6.06 p.m. as the Taliban reached the Afghan capital and were on the verge of taking power.
The 129 passengers on board included diplomatic staff from the Indian embassy in Kabul, and as per an NDTV news report, even some Members of Parliament of Afghanistan.
Air India was going to operate another flight to Kabul on August 16, 2021, with AI243 scheduled to take off at 8:50 AM, however, with the airport having lost control and the commercial flights being suspended, they have finally cancelled the operation this afternoon.
As per newswires, Air India has been asked by the Government of India to keep two aircraft on standby for evacuation missions. Not just that, the military resources have also swung in with an Indian Air Force C17 Globemaster operating an airlift overnight from Kabul.
— cvvhrn (@cvvhrn) August 15, 2021
It could be a while before we could see some semblance return at Afghanistan’s Kabul Airport, and while Air India might be on standby for another mission to Afghanistan, AI244 on August 15, 2021, might have been the last flight out of Kabul for a while for any scheduled carrier from India.
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