LIMA, November 20. /TASS/. A part of the Russian delegation and reporters from the so-called "Kremlin pool" who were going to the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Peru, have arrived in Lima with the delay of a day and a half. The Moscow-Lima flight, which was planned to take about 18 hours, lasted for almost 40 hours and gave much food to international newswires.
The adventures of the special flight began in the skies above Europe as the Swiss Air Force’s fighter jets intercepted the aircraft and escorted it to the border with France. Among the passengers on board the Ilyushin Il-96-300 were members of President Vladimir Putin’s delegation and reporters. Daniel Reist, a Swiss army spokesman, said on Saturday commenting on the incident - Swiss Air Force’s fighter jets escorted a plane of Russia’s Rossiya Special Flight Group as part of a routine procedure required for defense of Switzerland’s air space. "It often happens that F/A-18 escort government airliners when they fly through the Swiss air space within our work to control the skies," Reist told the Swiss Telegraphic Agency.
More surprises for the Russian flight were in Lisbon, where the plane landed for fuelling. A disorder was reported in the aircraft’s ignition unit. Press secretary of the presidential staff, Elena Krylova, told TASS the reserve plane was on its way to Portugal. "So that not to delay the passengers, and not to wait to the time the disorder is fixed, the decision is the delegation and the media will continue the trip on board the reserve plane (which has left Moscow)," she said, adding the staff’s counter-agent is Aeroflot, which cares for passengers on the ground in case of emergency situation.
The passengers had to stay for about 11 hours on board the plane, and only as all necessary visa formalities were over, the Russian embassy official helped them to get to hotels in Lisbon. Thus, the Russians had to spend almost a day in Portugal’s capital city.
Later on, it turned out fixing the plane required much less time than necessary paperwork to allow the passengers use the reserve plane, which was used to deliver everything necessary for fixing the Il-96-300, to continue the trip. Thus the delegation and reports continued the journey on board the initial, fixed, plane. The crew was the same. By the time the plane was departing Lisbon, President Putin in Lima already finished a few meetings with APEC counterparts.
The distance between Moscow and Lisbon by air is about 4,000km, between Lisbon and Lima - another 8,000. Capitals cities of Russia and Peru are separated by eight time zones.
The Rossiya Special Flight Group is engaged in aviation services for Russian top officials, including the president and prime minister, as well as members of their delegations during official visits abroad or working trips across Russia.
APEC is an international forum bringing together 21 leading economies of the world for cooperation on trade and economic development of the region. Creating the system of free and open trade and a liberal investment regime in the Asia-Pacific region has been declared the main task for APEC until the year 2020. Peru’s capital Lima plays host to the 2016 APEC summit on November 19-20.