1990 airlift of Indians from Kuwait
The 1990 airlift of Indians from Kuwait was carried out from 13 August to 11 October 1990 after the Invasion of Kuwait. Air India holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civil airline as a result of this effort. The operation was carried out during the Persian Gulf War in 1990 to evacuate Indian expatriates from Kuwait and Iraq. It was the largest civilian evacuation in history. The evacuation was completed before the start of Operation Desert Shield. A total of 111,711 people were evacuated to Mumbai – a distance of 4,117 km, by operating 488 flights in association with Indian Airlines, from 13 August to 11 October 1990 – lasting 59 days.
Initial efforts were made by the government of India to evacuate nationals by military aircraft. However, due to difficulties in air-space clearances the switch was made to civilian aircraft. Groundwork for the evacuation was laid during a visit by Minister of External Affairs I. K. Gujral soon after the invasion. As a result of this visit, Iraq agreed to tacitly permit the Indian evacuation efforts. Air India's efforts were coordinated by MP Mascarenhas based in Kuwait. Complications arose due to significantly higher number of nationals requiring evacuation, a lack of travel documents, and poor communications. Ultimately, around 10,000 Indian nationals decided to remain in Kuwait.