Stranded San Francisco passengers await Air India ferry flight

An Air India Boeing 777 approaches to land.
Photo Credit: L ken H from Yokohama, Kanagawa-ken, Japan, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, an Air India flight operating from New Delhi to San Francisco was forced to divert to Magadan in Russia, after developing technical problems with one engine.

Air India flight AI173, operated by a Boeing 777-200LR was on a scheduled flight from Delhi Indira Ghandi International Airport (DEL) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

The aircraft subsequently made an unscheduled diversion and landed at Magadan Sokol Airport (GDX) in rural Russia.

Flight plan track of Air India flight AI173
Source: RadarBox

Passengers await recovery flight

The flights compliment of 216 passengers have found themselves stranded in Magadan overnight, as local groundstaff worked on the maintenance issue.

The decision was subsequently made by the airline to dispatch the ferry flight to recover the stranded passengers; however, given the relatively remote location, footage shot by passengers has surfaced on social media showing the rather spartan surroundings they found themselves in.

According to journalist Tarun Shukla who posted to Twitter, the passengers say they have been housed in a school with bare minimum facilities.

“Russian officials are being nice but passengers getting v. anxious now,” his post continues.

Confirmed by the airline, flight AI173 which was operating between Delhi and San Francisco on Tuesday, June 6 was forced to make an unscheduled diversion to Magadan, Russia after it developed technical issues with one engine en route.

The flight with 216 passengers and a crew complement of 16 subsequently landed at Magadan and disembarked passengers whilst maintenance staff assessed the problem with the Boeing 777’s engine.

Air India statement

In an updated statement issued by Air India, the airline acknowledged the delay with repatriating the stranded passengers, saying:

“Given the infrastructural limitations around the remote airport, we can confirm that all passengers were eventually moved to a makeshift accommodation, after making sincere attempts to accommodate passengers in hotels locally with the help of government authorities.”

The airline also noted the fact that the remote location was not supported by airline staff, further stating:

“As we do not have any Air India staff based in the remote town of Magadan or in Russia, all ground support being provided to the passengers is the best possible in this unusual circumstance.”

The airline went on to state that it had maintained a “round the clock liaison” with the Consulate general of India in Vladivostok, the Indian Ministry of external affairs, and local Magadan ground handlers and Russian authorities.

Ferry flight departs Mumbai

Within the last two hours, the ferry flight has been dispatched by Air India to repatriate the stranded passengers and ferry them onwards to the planned destination of San Francisco ferry.

Ferry flight AI195 departs Mumbai. Video Credit: Air India via Twitter

Flight AI195, a Boeing 777-200ER from Mumbai (BOM) to Magadan, Russia (GDX) is currently airborne, and is expected to arrive at GDX at 0630 Hours (local time) on 8 June 2023.

In a social media post Air India stated that a team is on board the flight to provide any support that the passengers and staff at GDX may require.

“The ferry flight is carrying essentials in addition to sufficient amount of food to cater to all passengers on the onward flight scheduled from GDX to San Francisco (SFO). The aircraft operating the ferry flight will take all passengers and crew onward to San Francisco on 08 June 2023,” says the airline.

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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