Air India operates Kabul-Delhi flight with 129 passengers, services to Afghanistan not cancelled yet
Air India's return flight from Kabul to Delhi departed on Sunday evening with 129 passengers as Taliban forces entered the national capital of Afghanistan and waited for "peaceful transfer" of power.
Officials of Air India said that there is no plan yet to cancel its Delhi-Kabul-Delhi flight as of now and that it is scheduled to operate on Monday too.
Currently, only Air India is operating flights between India and Afghanistan.
The national carrier operated it Delhi-Kabul leg of the flight (with call sign AI-243) on Sunday afternoon with around 40 passengers, officials said.
Officials said AI-243 departed from Delhi at around 12.45 PM (Indian Standard Time) and had to hover for around one hour above the Kabul airport as it did not get permission to land from the air traffic control (ATC). They stated it was not clear what was the reason for the delay in the permission for landing of AI-243.
Therefore, the flight time for AI-243 on Sunday was around two hours and fifty minutes instead of usual one hour and forty minutes.
The return flight (with call sign AI-244) departed from the Kabul airport with 129 passengers at around 5.35 PM (Indian Standard Time).
Officials clarified that there is no plan to cancel Delhi-Kabul-Delhi flight as of now. They added that the flight is scheduled to operate on Monday.
However, they stated that the airline is monitoring the situation closely and it would take appropriate action as required.
India has put in place contingency plans to evacuate hundreds of its officials and citizens from Kabul that has been gripped by fear and panic following reports of Taliban fighters entering the outskirts of the Afghan capital city on Sunday.
People familiar with the development said the government will not put the lives of its staffers at the Indian embassy and Indian citizens in Kabul at any risk and plans have already been finalised in case they require emergency evacuation.