Pakistan reopens its flight service for all civilian traffic

Pakistan opened its airspace for all private travel on July 16 forenoon, sources said, completely excluding the ban on Indian flights that were not allowed to use the most of its airspace since the Balakot air strikes in February.

The transit is assumed to produce a significant change upon Air India, which underwent a major commercial loss of about ₹491 crore as it had to re-route its numerous international flights due to the closing of the Pakistan airspace.

As per the relevant sources, “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,”

The airmen (NOTAM) received notice from Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority at around 12.41 am Indian Standard Time, saying that “with immediate effect, Pakistan airspace is open for all types of civil traffic on published ATS (air traffic service) routes”.

Pakistan had completely shut its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force (IAF) hit a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot in connection with the Pulwama attack on February 14. Since then, the neighbouring country had only initiated two routes, both of them crossing over the southern region, of the total 11. On its part, the IAF had declared on May 31 that all temporary constraints forced on the Indian airspace post the Balakot strike had been removed. Nevertheless, it did not serve most of the commercial airliners and they were waiting for Pakistan to completely open its airspace.

Hardeep Singh Puri Civil Aviation Minister, in the Rajya Sabha on July 3 provided information that in India, the greatest pain was experienced by Air India that carries various international flights from Delhi to Europe and the U.S. The national transporter had lost ₹491 crore till July 2 due to the closing of the Pakistan airspace. Private airlines SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir lost ₹30.73 crore, ₹25.1 crore, and ₹2.1 crore, respectively.

Post the airstrike, Air India had to re-route, merge or reject many of its global aviation that connects India with European and U.S. cities. IndiGo, India’s biggest airline by domestic market share, was inadequate to start direct flights from Delhi to Istanbul due to the closing of the Pakistan airspace. The low-cost carrier started the Delhi-Istanbul flight in March. To date, this IndiGo flight had to take the longer route over the Arabian Sea and make a stop at Doha in Qatar for refuelling.

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