Staff of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) talk with passengers at a PIA office in Karachi on February 27.(AFP Photo)
Staff of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) talk with passengers at a PIA office in Karachi on February 27.(AFP Photo)

China opens up airspace in response to India-Pakistan crisis: Chinese media

The Civilian Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) stepped in with a contingency plan for both domestic and foreign airlines on Wednesday to use Chinese air space to reroute flights.
Beijing | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2019 11:30 AM IST

China has permitted foreign airlines to use its airspace after Pakistan shut down its skies following military tension with India this week, a state media report said on Friday.

Civilian flights were severely disrupted – before being stopped altogether – after fighter jets from India and Pakistan engaged near the India-Pakistan border on Wednesday. About 800 flights use the India-Pakistan air corridor every day, according to Reuters.

Also read: Over in 90 seconds’: Officers detail India, Pakistan air duel along border

The Civilian Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) stepped in with a contingency plan for both domestic and foreign airlines on Wednesday to use Chinese air space to reroute flights.

“The notice came after Beijing Capital International Airport cancelled all flights to and from Pakistan on Wednesday and Thursday, including connecting flights,” the North China Air Traffic Management Bureau, under the CAAC, was quoted as saying by the state-controlled tabloid Global Times.

The report said 22 flights fly in and out of Pakistan every week, including two from Air China and other flights from Pakistan International Airlines.

“Flights to Pakistan have undergone major changes in recent days and the CAAC reminded passengers to check flight information before they make plans,” said the statement.

Flights from the Middle East that usually overfly Pakistan and the Pakistan-India border were being rerouted over India, Myanmar or central Asia to enter China, the Global Times report said.

“At the request of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the CAAC opened part of China’s airspace and air routes for foreign airlines to reroute,” China National Radio reported.

“As of 10pm Thursday, 28 domestic airlines affected by the closure of Pakistani airspace adjusted flight plans and 49 foreign flights used Chinese airspace to reroute,” it said.

Flights from carriers, including Singapore Airlines, Finnair, British Airways, Aeroflot and Air India, had to detour, the report quoted the flight-tracking company Flightradar as saying.

There was hope for de-escalation of tension over the weekend with Pakistan deciding to return the captured Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to India on Friday.

Also read: IAF pilot Abhinandan to come home today, Pak likely to free him at Wagah

Chinese defence ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang on Thursday called for restraint from both sides, saying that China hoped India and Pakistan would find a solution through dialogue.

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