In the light of Russian aggression, the country of Ukraine has been converted into a war zone. The Ukrainian skies have also been closed due to aerial attacks from Russia. Thus, the area was converted into a no-fly zone. A short clip is however being shared claiming Air India is the only airline that was allowed to operate in the no-fly zone.
However, when we fact checked the video, we found that the Air India flight that was claimed to be flying over Ukraine’s no fly zone actually flew through a different route. Let’s check the details of the claim and find out what is the truth.
Description of Viral Video
In the video given above, we can see a recording from Plane Finder website, which is a UK based flight-tracking website. You can see the website tracking an Air India flight (AI117) from Amritsar to Birmingham. While all the other flights are using alternative routes, Air India flight flies straight into Ukraine’s airspace in the no fly zone. The caption accompanying the post says, “What a Video, Proudest Moments for all Indians. Listen to the commentary carefully. Only one country in world allowed to fly in the no flying zone . That country is our *India* and the plane is *Air India* Proud to be an Indian. Jai Hind 🇮🇳”
There are many such posts sharing the same video with the same caption. Some of these posts can be seen in the screenshot given below:
Is it true that an Air India flight was allowed to fly over Ukraine? Let’s find out!
We checked for records of AI117 flight from Amritsar to Birmingham in the United Kingdom on various flight tracking and air traffic monitoring websites including Planefinder. We did find records of AI117 flight from Amritsar to Birmingham on Feb 25th 2022. However, the route taken by the flight shown on the website does not match the route shown in the viral video.
As you can see in the screenshot, the records on Planefinder website show that Air India flight AI117 that flew from Amritsar to Birmingham on February 25th took an alternative route and did not fly over Ukraine. We have highlighted the route in blue for more clarity. The same is corroborated by another similar website Flightradar24. You can see the screenshot of the website below showing the route taken by the Air India flight bound for Birmingham flying over Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Latvia, Baltic Sea, Denmark, and North Sea to Great Britain. It did not enter the no fly zone in Ukraine.
Thus, it is clear that the flight AI 117 did not fly over Ukraine on 25th February. Also the narrative that Air India was the only airline that was allowed to operate over the skies of Ukraine is also false. In fact, Indian aircrafts had to return to India as a no fly zone was declared over Ukraine.
MEA had announced three flights to Ukraine to bring back stranded Indian students on February 18th when the tensions between Russia and Ukraine had begun to escalate. The flights were scheduled on 22nd, 23rd and 24th February. The first flight was able to bring back 240 passengers on Tuesday. However, the second flight had to return to India after Ukraine closed its airspace.
The graphics showing Air India flight flying in no fly zone over Ukraine seems to be edited. The air traffic monitoring websites including the Plane Finder used in the viral video show Air India flight did not fly over Ukraine but took an alternative route to Birmingham.
Title:Russia-Ukraine War | Did Air India Flight Fly Over No Fly Zone In Ukraine? Here’s The Truth Behind The Viral GraphicsFact Check By: Harish Nair