Pakistan has reopened its airspace for civilian Indian flights after several months of restrictions was imposed following violation of airspace by Indian Air Force (IAF) jet in February this year.
Pakistan had to close the airspace following a military standoff with India in February. Nonetheless, the Pakistan Air Force had given the IAF a befitting reply over this coward act, but the tension continues to exist.
The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) late on Monday announced, “With immediate effect, Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published [Air Traffic Service] routes”.
On June 27, Pakistan had 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. Hence, Indian aircrafts remained prohibited from using Pakistani airspace and their passengers travelling to the West — Europe and the United States destinations — continued to suffer longer flights and costly fares. About 70 percent of India’s commercial flights use Pakistani airspace which were delayed for at least two hours because of the restriction.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman had said airspace would remain closed till the issuance of new orders. However, flight operations had resumed on the Eastern Air Side and the Western airspace.
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 airspace closure leads 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 had deeply irked Indian authorities as their national airline had 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 had to pay $150 extra on tickets other than three hours’ extended flight.