An Air India plane that took off for Kyiv in Ukraine on Thursday morning to bring back Indians from the eastern European nation was called back to Delhi due to the closure of Ukrainian airspace amid the Russian military offensive.
After the Air India flight had departed from Delhi on Thursday morning, the Ukrainian authorities issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen), which stated that flights of civil aircraft within Ukraine "are restricted due to potential hazard for civil aviation".
Air India and the central government then decided to call back the plane to Delhi, officials said, adding that the plane took an about turn in the Iranian airspace to return to Delhi.
An airline spokesperson said the Air India flight AI 1947 is returning as a NOTAM has been issued at Kyiv.
The flight started from the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here at around 7.30 am for Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv.
The flight landed back at the IGIA at around 1 PM on Thursday.
Meanwhile, a Ukraine International Airlines flight from Kyiv landed at the Delhi airport at around 7.45 am on Thursday.
"There were 182 Indian nationals onboard the flight and majority of them were students... A couple of more flights have been scheduled," Anju Wariah, Director at STIC Group, said.
The group is the General Sales Agent (GSA) for Ukraine International Airlines in India.
After weeks of rising tensions, Russia on Thursday announced a military operation against Ukraine.
Air India's Thursday flight was scheduled to be the second flight to bring back Indians from the eastern European nation. The first flight, operated on February 22, brought back around 240 people.
On February 19, Air India announced that it would operate three flights between India and Ukraine on February 22, 24 and 26.