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IndiGo flight to Lucknow makes emergency landing at Karachi airport as flyer takes ill

An IndiGo flight from UAE’s Sharjah to Lucknow had to make an emergency landing at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, early Tuesday due to a medical emergency on-board the aircraft
By Anvit Srivastava, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2021 08:51 PM IST

An IndiGo flight from UAE’s Sharjah to Lucknow had to make an emergency landing at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, early Tuesday due to a medical emergency on-board the aircraft. A 67-year-old flyer, whose health had deteriorated during the flight, was de-boarded in Karachi and was pronounced dead by a medical team at the airport. The landing was made on humanitarian grounds, airline officials said, despite flight operations remaining suspended between the two countries.

Flight operations between India and Pakistan were suspended since February 2019 in the wake of the Balakot air strike by Indian forces. It was only in July 2019 that Pakistan had reopened its airspace for international air traffic after around five months of restrictions, though flights between the two countries are suspended.

However, as per the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) convention, any aircraft can land in any country in life-threatening situations, such as a medical emergency or serious technical faults.

The passenger who died on board the Sharjah-Lucknow flight was identified as Habib ur Rehman, an Indian citizen. According to the officials aware of the development, the flight 6E 1412, an Airbus 320 aircraft with a seating capacity of 182 passengers, departed from Sharjah International Airport at 1.59am on Tuesday for Lucknow. The flight had two pilots and four crew members on board.

“But after two hours of remaining air-bound, around 4am, when the aircraft had just entered the Pakistani air space via Iran, one of the passengers started feeling unwell. The crew then alerted the captain who decided to land under medical emergency and contacted the nearest air traffic control (ATC), which was the Karachi airport. Permission was sought on humanitarian grounds to land the aircraft,” said an official, who wished not to be named.

ATC Karachi provided 6E 1412 a clear route to land and the flight touched down at Jinnah International Airport at 4.59am.

“The passenger was taken out of the aircraft and was attended to by a team of medical experts from the Karachi airport, who pronounced him dead. The man’s family members and authorities in India were informed of his demise,” the official said.

After due formalities, the aircraft took off at 8.18am, but it was made to land in Ahmedabad at 10.02am, due to the Flight Duty Time Limitation (FDTL). A second official said the crew on board had completed their flying time limit and had to stand down. Hence, the aircraft had to be landed in Ahmedabad and the crew changed. The flight finally left Ahmedabad at 12.08pm and landed in Lucknow at 1.47pm. The usual four-hour flight from Sharjah to Lucknow took close to 12 hours,” the second officer said, requesting anonymity.

IndiGo on Tuesday said, “We are deeply saddened with the news and our prayers and wishes are with his family.”

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