x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Air India relief plane carries passengers to New Delhi after emergency landing

Flight from Abu Dhabi carrying 122 passengers and six crew that made an emergency landing in Pakistan after a hydraulic failure has returned to New Delhi.

ABU DHABI // A relief plane carrying 122 passengers and six crew of the Air India flight from Abu Dhabi that made an emergency landing in Pakistan after a hydraulic failure has returned to New Delhi.

The passengers landed in the Indian capital nearly 16 hours after they had boarded the flight on Monday morning.

"The relief plane has landed in Delhi at 5 pm (3.30 UAE time)," said a spokesman for Air India in Mumbai. "The passengers are all safe."

The Delhi-bound flight, AI 940, left the UAE shortly after midnight, at 12.05 am. But four hours later, the Airbus 319 experienced the "hydraulic failure" and landed at the Nawabshah Airport in Pakistan's Sindh province.

"The flight developed a technical problem while flying over the Pakistani airspace," said the spokesman, adding that hydraulic failures were "normal"

The official said an Airbus 320 had been sent equipped with men and material to bring back the passengers and do maintenance work on AI 940.

"The flight is expected to return at 5.45 pm (4.15 pm UAE time)," he said.

Abhay Pathak, Air India's Regional Manager of Gulf, Middle East and Africa, said the landing would not disrupt regular flights between Abu Dhabi and Delhi.

This is the first time that the Indian national carrier has landed in neighbouring Pakistan, with whom India shares a strained diplomatic relationship. Unlike the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Air India does not operate any flights between the two countries.

Air India authorities said the passengers had been in the care of local authorities and ground-handling staff.

The struggling national carrier has been reeling under huge financial losses and pilot strikes. Last week, hundreds of its pilots called off a 58-day strike after a court ordered them to return to work. Safety concerns have also been raised over its aging fleet.

pkannan@thenational.ae