Plane Grounded In France Over Trafficking Concerns Lands In Mumbai

An Airbus A340 carrying 276 passengers, mostly Indians, landed in Mumbai early this morning, following a four-day detention in France over suspected human trafficking allegations.

Plane Grounded In France Over Trafficking Concerns Lands In Mumbai

An Airbus A340 carrying 276 passengers, mostly Indians, landed in Mumbai early this morning, following a four-day detention in France over suspected human trafficking allegations. The aircraft landed in Mumbai shortly after 4 am. It had taken off from Vatry airport near Paris around 2.30 pm local time.

French authorities confirmed that 276 passengers had boarded the plane for the flight, while 20 individuals, including five minors, remained on French soil seeking asylum.

Upon landing in Vatry on Friday, it was found that there were 11 unaccompanied minors among 303 passengers. The stranded passengers were provided with makeshift beds, access to toilets and showers, and meals, along with hot drinks, in the halls of Vatry airport during the four-day ordeal.

The flight's connection to Nicaragua raised eyebrows, as the central American nation has seen a surge in individuals seeking asylum in the United States. According to data from the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), there has been a significant increase in Indians attempting to enter the US illegally, with 96,917 recorded in the fiscal year 2023, representing a 51.61 percent jump from the previous year.

Of particular concern is the method employed by some migrants, known as 'dunki' flights, where individuals transit through third countries with lenient travel document requirements to reach their final destinations.

Why It Was Grounded

The flight - a charter service from Dubai - had landed at the airport, which is around 160 km from Paris, to refuel. It was then grounded after a tip-off the passengers were "likely to be victims of human trafficking".

According to news agency AFP sources, the plane may be linked to a crime syndicate attempting to smuggle individuals into the United States. The investigation is now under the jurisdiction of France's anti-organised crime unit, JUNALCO.

Human trafficking, if proven, carries severe consequences in France, with a potential sentence of up to 20 years.