KARACHI: Pakistan on Thursday extended closure of its airspace for all overflying transit flights from and through India till July 12.
Earlier, Pakistan had closed its airspace for India till June 26. The period has been now extended for another 16 days. Hence, Indian aircrafts will remain prohibited from using Pakistani airspace and their passengers travelling to the West — Europe and the United States destinations — would continue to suffer longer flights and costly fares. About 70 percent of India’s commercial flights use Pakistani airspace which will now be delayed for at least two hours because of the restriction.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman said airspace will remain closed till the issuance of new orders. Nevertheless, flight operations will resume on the Eastern Air Side and the Western airspace, he added.
Pakistan had to close the airspace following its violation by an Indian Air Force jet in February the following year. Nonetheless, the Pakistan Air Force had given the IAF a befitting reply over this coward act, but the tension continues to exist.
Indian airplanes are also avoiding flights over Iran after the latter shot down a US military drone for allegedly violating its territory, while the US claims otherwise which has escalated the tension between both the countries.
Due to the closure of airspace between Pakistan and India, both the countries have to face loss of millions of rupees a day. The PIA normally operates four flights to Kuala Lumpur, two to Bangkok and two to New Delhi, but the closure of airspace has led to suspension of these flights, consequently it incurs a loss of millions of rupees every day. Overall loss of the national flag carrier is running into billions of rupees.
On the flip side, the Air India has to take longer routes following the restriction, hence stepping up its operating cost. It is not just enduring huge financial losses but losing its passengers to other airlines too. The closure has deeply irked Indian authorities as their national airline has crossed the mark of $3.2 billion in losses. The Air India flies 33 flights to the US and 66 to Europe every week.
The passengers from Kabul to New Delhi and vice versa now have to pay $150 extra on tickets other than three hours’ extended flight.