Pakistan partially opens airspace for Air India
Pakistan’s civil aviation authority has partially opened its airspace from India allowing Air India’s US and Europe bound flights to fly over it, saving 15 minutes, two officials familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. The airspace has also been opened up for international airlines. The move will help the airlines save cost.
Pakistan opened its airspace in phases in March after closing it following the Indian airstrike on a terror camp in Pakistan on February 26. However, flights originating or terminating in India were not allowed to use it. An incident involving a SpiceJet cargo aircraft earlier this week revealed that no Indian-registered aircraft was being allowed to overfly Pakistan.
“We received a NOTAM (notice to airmen) on Thursday evening and on Friday morning some of the flights have used Pakistan airspace from Ahmedabad. If more routes are opened in coming days, we will save lot of money on fuel,” said an Air India official. AI has been spending about ~15 lakh extra per flight to the US and Europe due to extra flying time. The closure also led to a sharp increase in fares — by 40-50%.
“There is a feeling that tensions have reduced substantially and that is why we have opened one route... more routes will be opened,” said a Pakistan government official.
“In times to come, we hope better sense prevails in both India and Pakistan because the first causality in such war-like scenario is airline business...,” said Mark Martin, CEO of a Dubai based Martin consulting.