Published: Tue, July 16, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Pakistan Opens Its Airspace After 135 Days

Pakistan Opens Its Airspace After 135 Days

"Pakistan has permitted all airlines to fly through its airspace from around 12.41 am today".

The closure disrupted Indian flights headed west, forced Pakistan International Airlines to suspend some of its flights, and effectively closed off major international routes in and out of Islamabad and Lahore, such as the Thai Airways route from Islamabad to Bangkok.

"With immediate effect, Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civilian traffic on published ATS routes", read a notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued by the authority.

India has reportedly responded in kind, resuming the flights shortly after Pakistan's announcement.

Hours later, India's Civil Aviation ministry said flights had started using the closed air routes, bringing great relief to airlines and air passengers.

"Pakistan being open again makes the traditional and preferred Europe-Asia route through Afghanistan, Pakistan and onwards to India available again, and means that city pairs abandoned after the February shutdown will likely be restarted", OPSGROUP, which provides guidance to operators, said in a note. "This is great news".

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The closure of routes affected hundreds of east-west flights flying over the subcontinent but westbound flights from airports in northern India such as Delhi, Lucknow, Amritsar etc have been worst affected.

Since then, foreign carriers using Indian airspace have been forced to take costly detours because they can not fly over Pakistan.

Pakistan had fully closed its airspace following the violation of its global boundary and airspace by Indian fighter jets on February 26. The neighbouring country only opened two of 11 routes after that, both passing through the southern region. The country had imposed restrictions on its airspace in response to the non-military counter-terrorism airstrike by the Indian Air Force against terror camps in Balakot.

The decision to open the airspace has come a week before when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump in Washington DC on 22 July.

IndiGo, India's largest airline by domestic market share, was unable to start direct flights from Delhi to Istanbul due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace.

Furthermore, the Civil Aviation Authority said the Kabul-Delhi flights will resume and flights will resume from eastern route.

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