Indian carriers operating from Ahmedabad to Gulf can now avoid flying over Pakistan airspace and take a new route over Arabian sea.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has straightened the flight path from Ahmedabad to Gulf, a move that would result in substantial savings for Indian carriers.
Indian carriers would earlier take a circuitous route by flying over Pakistan to reach Gulf that resulted in more fuel consumption as well as paying an additional $500 to Pakistan for using its airspace.
“AAI has straightened the route from Ahmedabad to Gulf which will save on fuel. On the existing route from Ahmedabad to Gulf, our carriers fly overPakistan airspace. However, on the new route, they will not fly over Pakistan airspace,” said a spokesperson of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. He, however, denied that the decision had been taken due to political reasons.
Indian carriers have for long been demanding a Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA), which would cut down travel time sharply and result in significant savings for airlines. HT had first reported this on June 10, 2015.
“On the Ahmedabad-Dubai sector, Indian carriers incur an additional Rs 1 lakh expenditure on fuel as they avoid the restricted airspace over the state and fly over the Pakistani airspace. Airlines pay another $500 per flight for entering the Pakistan airspace,” said an airline official.
About 40% of Indian airspace comes under defence authorities and is restricted for civil aircraft movement. As a result, most of the navigational routes are not straight, and commercial flights have to circumvent the restricted areas thereby losing fuel and time.
AAI and the defence ministry have been carrying out test flights for FUA. Once FUA is instituonalised, commercial flights can fly over restricted zones with prior approval from defence authorities. On the Delhi-Goa sector, which sees around 15 flight movements a day, airlines take an average 23 minutes of additional travel time while flying from Mumbai coastline to Goa.