Pakistan opened its airspace on Tuesday morning for all the civilian traffic after 5 months of the ban. This move will give a big relief to AirIndia as its international flights were taking a long route due to the closure of Pakistani airspace.
Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on February 27 after Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) struck the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot in retaliation to the Pulwama attack on February 14. Since then, the neighbouring country had banned its airspace.
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority issued the notice to airmen (NOTAM) at around 12:41 am. “With immediate effect, Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes,”
“Pakistan has permitted all airlines to fly through its airspace from around 12:41 am today. Indian airline operators will start using normal routes through Pakistan airspace soon,” Indian officials said.
Air India San Francisco-Delhi service AI 184 became the first flight after the ban ends to flyover Pakistan Airspace. The flight was winging its way to Delhi from Golden Gate when pilots got a surprising message that the Pakistan Airspace is opened. The flight landed at Delhi airport 1.5 hours ago before the scheduled time (on taking a long route).
Indian carriers have lost around Rs. 500 crores till July 2 due to Pakistan airspace closure. Indian National Carrier AirIndia suffered a huge financial loss of around Rs. 491 crores as It had to reroute its international flights. Private airlines including SpiceJet, IndiGo, and GoAir lost Rs. 30.73 crores, Rs. 25.1 crore and Rs. 2.1 crore, respectively according to data presented by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri
The low-cost carrier IndiGo was unable to start direct flights from Delhi to Istanbul due to the closure of the Pakistani airspace. It started the Delhi-Istanbul flight in March. Till date, this IndiGo flight was longer route over the Arabian Sea and making a stop at Doha in Qatar for refuelling.