An airline rescued 1 of its 4 Airbus planes stranded in Ukraine in a daring stealth mission at low altitude

·2 min read
A Wizz Air plane
Wizz Air rescued one of four planes stranded in Ukraine on Tuesday in a daring escape.Getty Images
  • An airline rescued an Airbus plane stranded in Ukraine for seven months in a daring mission.

  • Flightradar24 data appeared to show the WizzAir jet flying at 10,000 feet with its transponder off.

  • WizzAir confirmed it repatriated the jet on Tuesday following an "in-depth risk assessment."

An airline rescued one of its planes stranded in Ukraine in a daring escape that involved flying at a low altitude and turning off its transponder, data suggests.

Budapest-based Wizz Air repatriated one of four Airbus jets that have been stranded in the country since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

Data from Flightrader24 showed that the Airbus A320 flew from Lviv in western Ukraine to Katowice in neighboring Poland on Tuesday. The jet was flying at 10,000 feet when it eventually reappeared on radar as it entered Polish airspace after appearing to switch off its tracking system.

Ukraine's airspace has been largely closed to passenger jets since Russia's invasion, as have a number of its airports, leaving four Wizz Air jets stranded for nearly seven months.

Flying at a low altitude may have helped the jet avoid being detected by radar or anti-aircraft missiles.

An airline spokesperson told Insider: "Wizz Air confirms that, following an in-depth risk assessment and thorough preparation, its one aircraft based in Lviv departed from Danylo Halytskyi International Airport and successfully landed in Katowice on 13 Sep 2022."

The rescue mission marks the first step in Wizz's plans to rescue its jets. The airline didn't comment on plans to liberate the remaining three Airbus planes that are still stuck in Kyiv.

Wizz Air is one of several airlines and leasing companies whose jets remain stranded in Ukraine and Russia. Global market leader AerCap has 152 planes trapped in Russia and Ukraine, according to aviation consultancy IBA.

The airline has long expressed a desire to start flying again to both Ukrainian and Russian cities. In March it offered 100,000 free tickets to Ukrainians in neighboring countries.

Last month the airline told Gulf News that it planned to return to Russia with an Abu Dhabi to Moscow route in October, before backpedaling citing "industry supply chain limitations."

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