AIR INDIA will operate two flights to Romanian capital Bucharest on Friday (25) to evacuate Indians stranded in Ukraine following the military offensive by Russia, senior Indian government officials said.

Around 20,000 Indians, mainly students, are currently stranded in Ukraine, officials said.

Indian nationals who have reached the Ukraine-Romania border by road will be taken to Bucharest by Indian government officials for evacuation by two Air India flights.

The Ukrainian airspace was closed for civil aircraft operations by the country’s authorities on Thursday (24) morning. Evacuation flights are operating out of Bucharest.

The first Air India flight was scheduled to depart Delhi around 9 pm local time on Friday, followed by another one from Mumbai around 10.25 pm on Friday, officials said.

The two Air India flights will depart from Bucharest to India on Saturday (26).

Air India did not respond to a request for comments on the development.

The Indian embassy in Ukraine on Friday said it was working to establish evacuation routes from Romania and Hungary.

“Teams are getting in place at the following check points: Chop-Zahony Hungarian border near Uzhhorod, Porubne-Siret Romanian border near Chernivtsi,” it said.

Indian nationals, especially students, living closest to these border checkpoints were advised to coordinate with teams from India’s Ministry of External Affairs, the embassy said.

Once the routes are operational, the Indian nationals travelling on their own would be advised to proceed to the border check points, it noted.

The embassy advised Indian travellers to carry their passports, cash (preferably in US dollars), other essential items and Covid-19 vaccination certificates to the border check points.

“Print out Indian flag and paste prominently on vehicles and buses while travelling,” it said.

The distance between Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the Romanian border check point is approximately 600 km and it takes anywhere between eight and 11 hours to cover it by road.

Bucharest is located approximately 500 km from the Romanian border check point and it takes between seven and nine hours to cover the distance by road.

The distance between Kyiv and the Hungarian border check point is around 820 km and it takes 12-13 hours to cover it by road.