Airspace restrictions lifted, 11 points opened for Pakistan
According to a senior official of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the temporary restrictions were in place on the direction of the IAF.Updated: May 31, 2019 23:45 IST
India has removed restrictions on its airspace along the Pakistan border. According to a senior official of the state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI), the 11 entry and exit points for Pakistan were opened on Friday afternoon and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) was informed about it.
“However, flights will be able to use the airspace only when Pakistan also opens the airspace from its side. We have informed ICAO and now they will hold consultations with Pakistan. The day Pakistan decides to remove restrictions, flight operations will resume,” the official added. According to a senior official of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the temporary restrictions were in place on the direction of the IAF.
The closure of Pakistan’s airspace for nearly three months has hit travellers and airlines from Afghanistan and Central Asia the hardest. Pakistan shut its airspace to commercial flights originating in India or transiting through Indian airspace soon after Indian jets targeted a Jaish-e-Mohammed facility at Balakot on February 26. The air strike was carried out in retaliation to the suicide bombing of a CRPF bus by JeM at Pulwama in Kashmir that killed 40 troopers.
Pakistan on Thursday extended the ban till June 15. In the case of Central Asian airlines, the duration of flights from the region to New Delhi has increased by up to four hours as airlines have to fly via destinations such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Kazakhstan’s Air Astana, which had four flights a week to New Delhi, has suspended its operations to India till May 31. People familiar with developments said Air Astana stopped the flights as the higher costs made them financially unsustainable.
Uzbekistan Airways has maintained its flights to Amritsar, Delhi and Mumbai while Turkmenistan Airways has suspended flights to Amritsar, the people cited above said.
The closure of Pakistani airspace has led to a sharp increase in fares for passenger flights, and made imports and exports costlier as cargo planes too have to make lengthy detours.
First Published: May 31, 2019 23:45 IST