Air India is planning to operate two flights to Romanian capital Bucharest on Friday to evacuate Indians stranded in Ukraine due to a Russian military offensive, senior government officials said. Indian nationals who have reached the Ukraine-Romania border by road will be taken to Bucharest by officials of the Indian government so that they can be evacuated in the two Air India flights, they added.
The Ukrainian airspace was closed for civil aircraft operations by the country's authorities on Thursday morning and therefore, the evacuation flights are operating out of Bucharest. The two Air India flights will depart from Bucharest on Saturday, the officials said. Air India did not respond to PTI's request for comments on the development. The Indian embassy in Ukraine on Friday said it is working to establish evacuation routes from Romania and Hungary.
"At present, teams are getting in place at the following check points: Chop-Zahony Hungarian border near Uzhhorod, Porubne-Siret Romanian border near Chernivtsi," it said. Indian nationals, especially students, living closest to these border checkpoints are advised to depart in an organised manner in coordination with teams from the Ministry of External Affairs to actualise this option, the embassy said. Once the above-mentioned routes are operational, the Indian nationals travelling on their own would be advised to proceed to the border check points, it noted.
The embassy advised the Indians to carry their passports, cash (preferably in US dollars), other essential items and COVID-19 vaccination certificates to the border check points. "Print out Indian flag and paste prominently on vehicles and buses while travelling," it said. Around 20,000 Indians, mainly students, are currently stranded in Ukraine, the officials said.
The distance between Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the Romanian border check point is approximately 600 kilometres and it takes anywhere between eight-and-a-half to 11 hours to cover it by road. Bucharest is located approximately 500 kilometres from the Romanian border check point and it takes anywhere between seven to nine hours to cover the distance by road. The distance between Kyiv and the Hungarian border check point is around 820 kilometres and it takes 12-13 hours to cover it by road.
With PTI Inputs