New Delhi: An Indian Air Force cargo of aircraft equipment to Moscow has been confiscated at Helsinki airport by Finnish Customs after it was found without valid papers.
The consignment was on a Finnair flight from Mumbai to Moscow when it was stopped during transit at Helsinki on 28 May, said a defence ministry official on Tuesday.
Even after a month of the incident, the consignment is still in the custody of the Finnish authorities and diplomatic efforts are currently in progress to secure the release of the consignment.
“Aircraft equipment was on its way to Moscow, where it was to be repaired by the Russians. At the Helsinki airport, the equipment was found without documents and was confiscated by Finnish authorities,” the official said.
“The cargo included 19 crates of aircraft parts weighing around 1,700 kg and unservicable spares of Russian origin aircraft fleet,” the official added.
The transportation of military hardware and obtaining clearances for the consignments was the responsibility of an official travel and transportation agent.
“The agents are responsible for making travel and transportation arrangements for the defence ministry and by fault, they seemed to have failed in obtaining the valid documents for the consignment this time,” he said.
After being informed about the seizure of IAF consignment, the Indian high commission in Finland took up the case with Finnish authorities to get the equipment released.
“Indian officials in Helsinki are in constant touch with Finnish authorities and we are hoping that the equipment will soon be released and sent to Russia,” the official said.
Despite the setback in sending the equipment for repair to Moscow, the incident had not impacted either the IAF’s requirement for spares, or its operational preparedness, the IAF official said.
“The delay in the repair of the equipment and spares is not affecting IAF’s flying operations as we don’t need them immediately,” he said.
A majority of the IAF aircraft is of Russian origin and the IAF keeps sending its unserviceable equipment to Russia to get them repaired.
Though over the years India has developed the capability to service the aircraft within the country, yet some from its fleet still need to be sent to Russia for overhauling and maintenance.