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A340 grounded in France due to suspected trafficking

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A340 grounded in France due to suspected trafficking

Old 25th Dec 2023, 14:06
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Originally Posted by atakacs
This poses an interesting legal case. Most likely the passengers paid for the trip and boarded willingly. To what extent does France have a case here, unless Nicaragua did request an intervention ? Of course the plane is in their jurisdiction but those poor souls did not want to enter the country or commit in crime.
<br /><br />There is a set of, quite strict, EU laws to halt human trafficking. The poor souls probably paid a lot and boarded willingly, but did they really do so because they wanted to visit some lakes in Nicaragua?

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Old 25th Dec 2023, 17:41
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The 2 organizers of that trip that were on board have been formally arrested under human trafficking's charges and are in preventive detention in France., according the Government spokesperson .
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Old 25th Dec 2023, 20:15
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Originally Posted by Eutychus
FR24 has the aircraft on its way back to Fujairah.
It did indeed but now (2115 UTC) aircraft is over the Arabian Sea - Mumbai looking like a distinct possibility.
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Old 25th Dec 2023, 21:14
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In a holding pattern east of Mumbai now (2215 UTC).
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Old 26th Dec 2023, 06:00
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Originally Posted by ATC Watcher
The 2 organizers of that trip that were on board have been formally arrested under human trafficking's charges and are in preventive detention in France., according the Government spokesperson .
But they haven't been charged, being released with the status of 'témoin assisté' (basically 'suspect'), which suggests they haven't got enough on them to charge them (yet), which is perhaps the most surprising aspect of this story of many surprises to me so far.
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Old 26th Dec 2023, 08:19
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Indian MSM report on the story:

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Old 26th Dec 2023, 18:26
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Question

Originally Posted by Eutychus
But they haven't been charged, being released with the status of 'témoin assisté' (basically 'suspect'), which suggests they haven't got enough on them to charge them (yet), which is perhaps the most surprising aspect of this story of many surprises to me so far.
For me the question arised,,why Nicaragua should be the place for continuing to USA, did I oversee sth? Please advise 😉
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Old 26th Dec 2023, 18:49
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I don't have any expert knowledge, but there have been plenty of insights upthread.

As I understand it, a "donkey" route is one that is indirect but seen as more certain. One moves from Nicaragua up thorough Central America to the US-Mexico border. It sounds as if the passengers might have had entry visas for Nicaragua (and that visas might be more forthcoming there than elsewhere in the sub-region). If they did, and remained tight-lipped, who's to say they were doing anything other than visiting the Nicaraguan lakes on a one-week package holiday as some are said to have asserted?

One can't help but wonder what happened to Legend Airlines' previous planeloads of passengers, how full (or empty) the return manifest was, and how many other flights like this might be quietly going on all over the world with the help of 'informal' travel agencies. And that's even before starting to think about the ethical and legal considerations.
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Old 26th Dec 2023, 19:54
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Thx

Originally Posted by Eutychus
I don't have any expert knowledge, but there have been plenty of insights upthread.

As I understand it, a "donkey" route is one that is indirect but seen as more certain. One moves from Nicaragua up thorough Central America to the US-Mexico border. It sounds as if the passengers might have had entry visas for Nicaragua (and that visas might be more forthcoming there than elsewhere in the sub-region). If they did, and remained tight-lipped, who's to say they were doing anything other than visiting the Nicaraguan lakes on a one-week package holiday as some are said to have asserted?

One can't help but wonder what happened to Legend Airlines' previous planeloads of passengers, how full (or empty) the return manifest was, and how many other flights like this might be quietly going on all over the world with the help of 'informal' travel agencies. And that's even before starting to think about the ethical and legal considerations.

understand it now, thx mate
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Old 27th Dec 2023, 00:01
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Times of India article on 'Donkey flights'

From the Times of India 26 December 2023 article:

"A record 96,917 Indians were apprehended while unlawfully crossing into the US between October 2022 and September 2023, according to US Customs and Border Protection (UCBP) data. Of the 96,917 Indians, 30,010 were caught at the Canada border and 41,770 at the frontier with Mexico.

Tracing the 'donkey route'

According to reports, 'donkey route' starts with reaching a Latin American country like Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua or Guyana, where Indian citizens can get visa on arrival or tourist visas easily. Some agents also arrange direct visas for Mexico from Dubai. However, landing directly in Mexico is considered more risky, as local authorities can arrest the migrants on sight.

A longstanding issue

The practice of 'donkey flights' has been a persistent and ongoing concern. Human smugglers have been hiring chartered planes to take illegal immigrants to Nicaragua from where offshore handlers facilitate their entry into the US through the Mexico border.

The traffickers show these flights as planes carrying tourists from India. However, these flights came under the radar of law enforcement agencies as they only did one-way trips. The planes that left for Nicaragua never returned with passengers, indicating something fishy was going on.

Sources in the police and agencies said the kingpin in the case involving the plane grounded in France, Shashi Kiran Reddy from Hyderabad, had been regularly arranging for flights to Nicaragua that halted at Vatry airport, 150km from Paris, for refuelling.

Explaining Reddy's modus operandi, the source said that once the flight reached Nicaragua, the illegal immigrants would either undertake a 3,100-km road journey to Mexico or a boat journey to Miami via Cancun and Havana.

Sources in the central agencies and the Gujarat police said that though many Indians are caught in the US yearly, very few are deported as some obtain shelter there on humanitarian grounds."
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Old 27th Dec 2023, 21:02
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FranceInfo has a more investigative article (in French) on the airline.
Apparently it's owned by two Afghan businessmen. The article links to a press release (in English) from the government of Dubai about an agreement with an investment company whose holdings include Legend Airlines.
And apparently a German-registered airline has also flown the same route, Universal Sky Carrier. They appear to have one aircraft, an A-340 (!) which at the time of posting is en route from Malta to Buenos Aires having flown in from Aksu, China.

Last edited by Eutychus; 27th Dec 2023 at 21:16.
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Old 27th Dec 2023, 22:41
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Article from La Prensa (Nicaragua’s daily newspaper) dated 11 December 2023

Charter flight from Europe arrive in Managua with Africans heading to the United States

Tourist entrepreneurs do not know of any agency that is bringing tourists from Europe through charter flights, so the passengers on those flights can only be migrants heading towards the United states.

The decision by the United States to restrict visas for individuals involved in charter flights arriving in Nicaragua with irregular migrants, who then continue their journey north by land, reduced trips from various Caribbean islands but not those coming from Europe.

Over the weekend the International Airport in Managua set a historical record by receiving, for the first time, two direct flights from Europe, believed to carry African migrants heading to the United States.

The first flight arrived in Managua on Saturday, December 9th, at 8:37 PM. It departed from the Chalons Vatry International Airport in France and was operated by Legend Airlines, based in Romania. This airline leases aircraft and operates charter flights using its fleet of Airbus A-340, which, according to technical specifications, is one of the commercial airplanes with the longest range and can carry up to 359 passengers.

The second flight arrived in Managua at 2:30 AM on December 10th, 2023. It departed from Kirchberg, Germany, and was operated by the newly established German airline Universal Sky Carrier (USC). This company exclusively focuses on charter flights and recently acquired its first Airbus A340-300 with a capacity for 253 passengers.

Direct charter flights from Europe

It is worth noting that, to encourage the arrival of tourists from the old continent, for several years, stakeholders in the tourism sector struggled to open a direct route between Europe and Managua. Before 2018, these efforts began to bear fruit when the Spanish airline Iberia considered resuming its flights to Managua after 14 years of departure. However, in August of that year, they cited lack of demand as the reason for suspending the route.

Therefore, Nicaragua lacks direct connections to Europe. Travelers to and from the old continent to Nicaragua usually have to make stops in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, or Panama. Given this lack of direct flights, the arrival of charters over the weekend is considered historic.

Why is it historic? “From a technical standpoint for aviation enthusiasts, it marks the first time we have simultaneously scheduled two flights from Europe and three operations of Airbus A340-200/300 family aircraft within a 16-hour period. For those of us who monitor air traffic daily, this represents a milestone,” wrote the Aviacion en Nicaragua Group on their Facebook account.

They announced the arrival of charter flights

Besides providing the technical explanation Aviacion en Nicaragua shared photographs of the aircraft on the runway at Managua’s International Airport. They also confirmed that both were carrying passenger charter flights. The third Airbus they referred to was from the commercial flight operated by the Venezuelan airline Conviasa, which covers the Havana-Managua route daily.

Meanwhile the Augusto C Sandino International Airport in Managua displayed the arrival data for both flights on the terminal screen but did not show their departure information. However, Aviacion Nicaragua shared photos of both aircraft departing on Sunday, returning on direct flights to their respective countries.

“On the remote platform, the two Airbus A340-300 from USC and Legend Airlines, which will be returning to their respective destinations in France and Germany this afternoon, directly,” announced the group on Sunday 10th of December 2023

“We never had charter flights from Europe” says a tourism entrepreneur

Moreover, these are not the only airlines arriving in Managua on direct flights from Europe. Recently, the Portugal-based airline Euro Atlantic celebrated on its social media its first direct flight between Lisbon and Managua. This company also specializes in charter flights and other special services.

According to sources close to the tourism sector, who prefer not to be identified for fear of reprisals, the fact that these flights only drop off passengers and return empty hours after arrival confirms that they bring migrants who will follow a different route from Managua. If they were bringing tourists, it would be cheaper for the company to wait for them rather than return for them another day.

“I haven't heard anything from any agency organizing charters from Europe with actual tourists. It is possible they are migrants because the only charter flights arriving in Nicaragua with tourists were from Canada. We have never had charters from Europe” stated a tourism sector entrepreneur.

The presence of Africans is increasing

Additionally, for several weeks, the presence of Africans at Managua’s International Airport has been growing. In the early days of November, the increasing demand for tickets from Europe, South America, and other countries with passengers heading to Managua forced Avianca to restrict ticket sales. However, every day, at least four Avianca flights from El Salvador continue to arrive in Managua, with evident presence of Africans traveling from Europe with layovers in El Salvador.

In a recent monitoring conducted by La Prensa, it was determined that an average of around 40 Africans arrive on each flight, mostly young men with light luggage. After completing the immigration check process, they purchase SIM cards for their phones and leave the airport to hire taxis authorized by the authorities to transport them to northern border posts in the country, from where they cross into Honduras to continue their journey towards the United States.

The taxis that transport them are the ones permitted to remain within the airport. Drivers communicate with the Africans through translation apps downloaded on their mobile phones. The cost of transportation from Managua to the border area is around US$50 per person, and once the price is agreed upon, they begin the journey.

These movements align with reports from the Central Bank of Nicaragua (BCN), detailing that between 2022 and August 2023, approximately 500,000 individuals have entered Nicaragua by air but have not departed by plane; instead, they have continued their journey towards the United States by land.
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Old 27th Dec 2023, 23:14
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So....wow...simply great...lets then forget Romanians and Legend....we have here some more than "normal european fishy things"....a german airline operating an A340 from Frankfurt Hahn and a portuguese EuroAtlantic Boeing 767 from Lisbon...and as written above, all of them taking migrants onto Nicaragua(then USA), to return empty ferry to Europe....!!!
Could we will be facing a big majeur operation right below the nose of the authorities (both American and EU) without anyone giving a sh*t or really care about it!!!???? Things are really getting weird and expanding at full speed!!!

https://www.facebook.com/spottersnicaragua/photos

Last edited by JanetFlight; 27th Dec 2023 at 23:31.
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Old 28th Dec 2023, 06:52
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So the "tip off" (if it wasn't from a government agency) for the grounded flight could have come from anybody reading La Prensa (or indeed a Nicaraguan plane-spotter!); the details are there in the article in black and white and date from before the incident.

Originally Posted by JanetFlight
Could we will be facing a big majeur operation right below the nose of the authorities (both American and EU) without anyone giving a sh*t or really care about it!!!????
I don't know about a "big major operation", but it does look like several people have spotted a loophole offering a lucrative business opportunity (for the time being...).

In my limited experience the actual facts and issues surrounding irregular immigration across any border are far removed from the politics and mainstream media coverage of the subject. But that's a topic for Jet Blast and I for one am not going to venture there to discuss them.
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Old 28th Dec 2023, 09:40
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Wall Street Journal article dated 9 November 2023

The Country That Is Helping Tens of Thousands of Migrants Head to the U.S.

Nicaragua’s open-border policy for U.S.-bound asylum seekers provides bridge for Haitians, Cubans and Africans to reach southern border

"President Daniel Ortega has opened Nicaragua to flights carrying tens of thousands of migrants from Haiti, Cuba and Africa in recent months, swelling the ranks of people using the Central American country as a landing point on their journey north to the U.S.

Ortega’s authoritarian government has allowed several little-known charter airlines and travel agencies to operate flights from Haiti and other Caribbean airports to Nicaragua, according to Haitian and Nicaraguan civil aviation data.

Many of the asylum seekers are from Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, and have arrived in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. Migrants from African nations, such as Senegal and Cameroon, and from former Soviet republics are also making multiple airport stopovers in what are coming to be known as “donkey flights” to reach Managua.

The new air bridge provides a direct migrant route for Haitians fleeing their country’s political meltdown. In the past, most Haitian migrants attempting to enter the U.S. came from South American countries like Chile and Brazil where they had previously resided.

The latest arrivals join more than 400,000 Cubans who have flown to Managua from Havana in the past two years since Nicaragua dropped visa requirements in 2021.

The Nicaraguan route has also become increasingly appealing to migrants from as far as Asia. Some 6,500 migrants from Uzbekistan and other former Soviet republics crossed to Honduras from Nicaragua this year, a 10-fold increase from 2022, according to the Honduran government. Many of them landed in Managua on charter flights from Bulgaria.Ortega’s open-border measures highlight the geopolitical risks for the U.S. when trying to punish authoritarian governments in the region, while for Nicaragua’s government, the migrant wave represents a steady revenue stream, said Eduardo Enríquez, the managing editor of leading Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa, which was forced to close its print edition by the Ortega regime. Enríquez is in exile in Miami.

“It’s a great business for Ortega and Murillo. You cause problems for the U.S. and at the same time you cash in on those troubles,” he said."

https://www.wsj.com/world/americas/t...mobilewebshare
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Old 28th Dec 2023, 10:11
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Ah now that rings bells.
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Old 28th Dec 2023, 13:29
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I wonder what the loadfactors on Conviasa's A340s operating Havanna - Managua - Havanna are. Inbound compared to outbound... Same as for Gullivair's flights Burgas - Managua earlier this year.
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Old 28th Dec 2023, 14:19
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Originally Posted by NG1
I wonder what the loadfactors on Conviasa's A340s operating Havanna - Managua - Havanna are. Inbound compared to outbound... Same as for Gullivair's flights Burgas - Managua earlier this year.
So...Gullivair also on the parade...Bulgaria carrier,,,and it goes another one for the EU list
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