After Russia’s invasion, thousands of Indian citizens were left trapped in Ukraine. In response to this crisis, India has enlisted the support of its national airlines and air force to try and repatriate its stranded nationals in a mission dubbed “Operation Ganga”.

 

National rescue mission

Before the war, Ukraine was home to over 19,000 Indians, most of which were medical students. There were 15,000 still in the country when Russia invaded last month, and Ukraine closed its airspace. To help those marooned escape, India has been assisting its citizens in reaching Ukraine’s borders so that they can take flights home from neighbouring countries. The mission has been named “Operation Ganga” after India’s holy river.

operation Ganga repatriation flight
Over 2,900 Indian nationals were repatriated last weekend alone | © India Today

The effort started with only a few daily flights, but as the fighting rages on and more students reach the borders, this has been increased to over a dozen each day. Since the operation began, over 14,000 Indian citizens have been successfully repatriated. India has vowed to bring home every single national trapped in Ukraine, so we can expect the airlift will continue for a little while yet.

 

Where are they flying from?

Ukraine closed its airspace on 24 February, ceasing all commercial flights in and out of the country. This meant that anyone seeking to leave Ukraine would have to cross a land border to one of Ukraine’s peaceful neighbours. Indian airlines have been operating flights primarily from Poland, Hungary and Romania, where most students have fled. Other airlines have also been flying from Slovakia and Budapest.

IndiGo A320 Neo ready for departure
IndiGo has been responsible for the majority of rescue flights | © Flickr Commons

 

IndiGo has been responsible for 51% of all repatriation flights, including 14 to Rzeszow, Poland and 13 to Budapest, Hungary. Other destinations for Operation Ganga include Suceava, Kosice, and other smaller airports. Destinations are chosen by demand, based on where the most expatriates have managed to reach.

 

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