Pakistan refuses use of its airspace for Srinagar-Sharjah flights: Reports
Pakistan's objection to the flight using its airspace has been reported to ministries concerned, including the civil aviation ministry, the external affairs ministry and the home ministry, reports said.
Pakistan has refused to allow Go First's Srinagar-Sharjah flight to fly in its airspace, news agency ANI reported. The matter has been reported to ministries concerned, including the civil aviation ministry, the external affairs ministry and the home ministry, the agency reported. During his recent visit to the Valley, Union home minister Amit Shah flagged off the first flight from Srinagar to Sharjah, an international route which was revived almost after 11 years. According to reports, the first international flight from Srinagar to Dubai commenced in 2009 by Air India Express, but it was eventually discontinued.
National Conference leader and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah said the development is very unfortunate. "Pakistan did the same this with teh Air India Express flight from Srinagar to Dubai in 2009-2010. I had hoped that GoFirst airways being permitted to overfly Pak airspace was indicative of a thaw in relations but alas that wasn't to be," Abdullah tweeted on Wednesday.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufi slammed the government and said flagging the flight off was only a ‘PR extravaganza without any groundwork’. “Puzzling that GOI didn’t even bother securing permission from Pakistan to use its airspace for international flights from Srinagar. Only PR extravaganza without any groundwork,” she tweeted.
The withdrawal of the permission comes at a time when the Pakistan government is allowing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's special VVIP flight to use its airspace. In PM Modi's recent visit to Italy for the G20 summit, PM Modi's flight flew over the Pakistani airspace and came back using the same route. In September, when PM Modi flew to Washington, his flight was allowed to use Pakistan's airspace.
India also allowed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's flight to use India's airspace when he was flying to Sri Lanka.
On October 23, when the Srinagar-Sharjah flight was announced open, Omar Abdullah expressed doubt over whether Pakistan has indeed changed its heart and allowed Indian flight to enter its airspace. "Regarding the Srinagar-Sharjah flight that has been announced today - has Pakistan had a change of heart & allowed flights originating from Srinagar to use its airspace? If not then this flight will die the way the Srinagar-Dubai flight died during UPA2," he tweeted.
"Because of Pakistan’s cussed refusal to allow flights originating from Srinagar to use its airspace the SXR-DXB flight had to take a ‘technical halt’ in Delhi or had to fly south & go around Pakistan airspace. This made the flight completely unviable both in terms of cost & time," he had added.
As the flight was allowed to use Pakistani airspace, Abdullah had tweeted that satellite image and wrote, "Good to see the refusal of airspace usage is a thing of the past. Perhaps there is hope for relations between the two countries."
Now that the permission has been reportedly withdrawn, the flight is taking a longer route over Rajasthan, Gujarat to fly to Dubai.