Fewer delays at Mumbai airport as Pakistan partially reopens airspace for flights
From Sunday evening, entry points for aircraft flying between Indian and Pakistani airspace started reopening, and the first such point, called Telem, was near Ahmedabad. For domestic and international fliers from Mumbai, this means fewer delays as the congestion over Mumbai’s airspace will significantly reduce.
Both countries closed 11 entry points more than three months ago on February 27, after tensions rose following the Balakot strike that month. The closure of the airspace meant Mumbai Air Traffic Control (ATC) officers were overworked, as all US-bound flights from Delhi had to use the Mumbai airspace and fly over Muscat. The Mumbai ATC, which was used to handling 700 flights over its airspace, had to tackle 1,200 flights a day.
With Pakistan reopening the Karachi-Ahmedabad air route on Sunday evening, air traffic officials in Mumbai said they expect a 10%-12% drop in the excessive air traffic over Mumbai, as these flights will now fly over Ahmedabad.
From 5.30pm on Sunday evening, at least 30 flights have used the route, a senior Mumbai ATC official said. “The number of flights using the route is expected to increase to 100 in the coming week,” the Mumbai official said.
While the spokesperson for the Airports Authority of India (AAI) did not comment on the matter, he confirmed that a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) about the opening of the Karachi- Ahmedabad route was issued at 5.30pm on Sunday.
“Nothing more than the NOTAM can be shared as of now,” said a senior Delhi-based AAI official. “The route with entry point Telem has been opened by authorities... slowly, the situation will be normalised. All routes may be opened in the coming days, after which the air traffic situation will become normal,” the AAI official said.
On April 6, Pakistan opened one (P518) of its eleven air routes, enabling east-bound flights from India to make use of its airspace.