Thursday, 19 September, 2019

Pakistan airspace opens for airlines, was shut post Balakot strike

An arial view of the airplane hub at the airport in Karachi Pakistan An arial view of the airplane hub at the airport in Karachi Pakistan
Patty Aguilar | 16 July, 2019, 15:30

The decision to reopen the airspace is expected to particularly help Air India which had to reroute its worldwide flights.

The end of airspace closure will benefit all worldwide flights from the eastern side including Indian aircraft. "With this, normal air traffic operations have resumed through all Flight Information Regions between India and Pakistan", a government source said.

Pakistan fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the fighter jets of the Indian Air Force fighter struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot following the Pulwama terror attack in Kashmir killing CRPF personnel.

In March, Pakistan partially opened its airspace but did not allow Indian flight to fly over its airspace.

The Civil Aviation Authority in a statement said Pakistan issued a written notification (NOTAM) in this regard at 7:11 pm on Monday.

The move is expected to give a major relief to Air India, which suffered a huge financial loss of around Rs 491 crore as it had to re-route its various worldwide flights due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace.

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Flights between Europe and Southeast Asia were forced further south, adding as much as 450 km (280 miles) to some journeys and forcing the cancellation of some routes.

On its part, the IAF announced on 31 May that all temporary restrictions imposed on Indian airspace post the Balakot strike had been removed. Separately, India's national carrier Air India suffered a loss of Rs 491 crore until 2 July, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in a reply to a question in Rajya Sabha. However, it did not benefit most of the commercial airliners and they were waiting for Pakistan to fully open its airspace. The disruption of civil aviation traffic led to flight time increases of up to 90 minutes that caused major losses to Indian and worldwide carriers.

The low-priced carrier started flying the Delhi-Istanbul route in March.

Pakistan closed its airspace completely after aerial dogfights in February ratcheted up tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi.

This airspace closure has led to huge losses for carriers flying to the west of India as well as other global carriers too that fly to the west of India.

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