Scary? Air India A320 Flight from Delhi to Kabul
- The airspace over Afghanistan is declared closed so that no aircraft can operate there. Our scheduled flight to Kabul cannot start either, ”said an Air India spokesman
- Air India Flight 243 took off from Delhi to Kabul yesterday at 8:50 a.m. Indian time when it was taking off on an Airbus A320 with 40 Afghan passengers.
- It’s a 2 hour 5 minute flight to neighboring Afghanistan. After crossing the border on AI 243 on August 15 and beginning the approach, the Indian plane was ordered to hold and orbit at 16,000 feet for an additional 90 minutes before being allowed to land.
Landing can sometimes be delayed due to poor air communication in Afghan airspace.
As the Indians celebrated Independence Day on Sunday August 15, the Taliban wreaked havoc when they captured Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
The population of Kabul panicked when it became known that the Taliban had encircled the city that day. On the one hand, the Afghan government fled the country. The city itself was in turmoil.
Air India 243, a Star Alliance flight operated by Air India, carried six crew members and 40 passengers from Delhi to Kabul without knowing whether they would be allowed to land after reaching Kabul airspace. For no apparent reason, the plane was ordered to orbit the sky.
For the next 90 minutes, Air India orbited the sky at an altitude of 16,000 feet. The Air India flight had left with additional kerosene. The experienced pilot knew that there could be delays in landing due to the temporarily poor flight communication in the airspace of Kabul.
Like the Indian plane, two other foreign planes flew there without a landing permit. In addition to the Taliban’s conquest of the city, operating a plane over Kabul is a bit of a challenge.
Kabul Airport is often “busy and boring,” say pilots. At this time of year, flying into the city is an additional challenge: the wind is strong and gusty.
The 160-seat aircraft was piloted by Captain Aditya Chopra.
At 3.30 p.m. local time, permission to land was finally granted.
Little did the passengers and crew know that the political situation in Kabul was deteriorating. Even after landing, none of the crew members left the usual cockpit in Kabul. After waiting around an hour and a half, the Air India flight boarded 129 passengers and flew back to Delhi.
The plane carried Indian embassy staff, Afghan government officials, at least two Afghan MPs and a senior advisor to former President Ashraf Ghani.
One passenger said he could see people at Kabul airport desperately trying to leave.
On Monday, Air India had a scheduled flight from Delhi to Kabul at 8:50 a.m. It was initially postponed to 12.50 p.m. and then after the airspace in Afghanistan was closed after a NOTAM, a notice to the airmen – an official notice with information on flight operations – was suspended.
Some passengers on the plane said they could “feel the tension on the ground” but it wasn’t clear what it was about.
Soldiers lined the runways. There was also a loud roar in the air: C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft and Chinook helicopters flew in and out.
And they saw civil aircraft from Pakistan (PIA) and Qatar Airways parked on the tarmac.