Amidst the controversy surrounding the grounded Airbus A340 in France over suspected human trafficking, 27 passengers, including 20 adults and five minors, have chosen to stay back in France despite the plane being cleared for departure to Mumbai.
A local official confirmed the asylum-seeking passengers, withholding their nationality information, stating that their applications would be processed at Paris airport, in adherence to international law preventing the return of asylum seekers to their country of origin. Two individuals questioned by French police over suspected trafficking also opted to stay back, having received expulsion orders.
The passengers were initially detained after the plane, operated by Romania’s Legend Airlines, landed in Vatry airport near Paris from Dubai. The detention came after an anonymous tip-off suggested the potential trafficking of passengers. Subsequently, French authorities investigated immigration law violations rather than human trafficking, according to judicial sources.
The Airbus A340, en route to Nicaragua, had 303 passengers, mostly Indians, when it landed in Vatry last Friday. The plane, grounded for refueling, received clearance to depart for Mumbai early this morning, carrying 276 passengers. The exact number of Indians on board and the nationality of other passengers remain unknown.
The case has raised concerns about immigration law violations, particularly given Nicaragua’s status as a popular destination for immigrants attempting to enter the US illegally. While initial suspicions revolved around human trafficking, ongoing investigations focus on potential immigration law breaches.
Flights to destinations like Nicaragua, where obtaining travel documents is relatively accessible, are colloquially referred to as ‘donkey’ flights. The situation surrounding the detained passengers underscores the complexities of international immigration and the challenges faced by those seeking refuge or attempting illegal entry into the US.
As legal processes unfold and the investigation continues, the case of the grounded Airbus A340 serves as a stark reminder of the broader issues related to human mobility, immigration policies, and the risks faced by individuals pursuing alternate routes to reach their desired destinations.