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India follows Pakistan to lift ban on airspace, normal flight traffic resumes

In a major relief to Air India, Pakistan has opened its airspace and has lifted the ban on Indian flights. According to sources, flights from Indian will soon be operational on the route. Pakistan had closed its airspace for Indian flights since the Indian Air Force had attacked a Jaish-e-Mohammad training camp in Balakot.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: July 16, 2019 10:05 IST
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Image Source : AP

Pakistan opens airspace for civilian traffic

Removing the ban on Indian flights that were earlier not allowed to use the majority of Pakistan's airspace since the Balakot air strikes in February, the Imran-Khan led country early Tuesday opened its airspace for all civilian traffic. 

The development is likely to provide a major relief to Air India, which suffered a huge financial loss of around Rs 491 crore as it had to re-route its various international flights due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace.

"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 sources said.

Meanwhile, in response to Pakistan's action to reopen its airspace, the government sources said India too has issued revised NOTAM immediately thereafter. 

"Consequent to Pakistan issuing NOTAM to lift airspace restrictions, relevant authorities have informed that India has also issued revised NOTAM immediately thereafter," the sources said. 

"With this, normal air traffic operations have resumed through all Flight Information Regions between India and Pakistan," they added. 

Tuesday at nearly 12.41 am Indian Standard Time, Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority had issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM), stating that "with immediate effect, Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (air traffic service) routes".

Earlier on February 26, Pakistan had fully closed its airspace after the Indian Air Force (IAF) struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot in retaliation to the Pulwama attack on February 14. 

Since then, the neighbouring country had only opened two routes, both of them passing through the southern region, of the total 11.

On its part, the IAF, on May 31, had announced that all temporary restrictions imposed on the Indian airspace post the Balakot strike had been removed. 

However, it did not benefit most of the commercial airliners and they were waiting for Pakistan to fully open its airspace.

In India, the biggest pain was suffered by Air India that conducts various international flights from Delhi to Europe and the US.

The national carrier had lost Rs 491 crore till July 2 due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace. Private airlines SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir lost Rs 30.73 crore, Rs 25.1 crore and Rs 2.1 crore, respectively, according to the data presented by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in the Rajya Sabha on July 3.

Post the air strike, Air India had to re-route, merge or suspend many of its international flights that connect India with European and US cities.

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.

The low-cost carrier started the Delhi-Istanbul flight in March. Till date, this IndiGo flight had to take the longer route over the Arabian Sea and make a stop at Doha in Qatar for refuelling. 

Also Read | Pakistan won't open airspace until India de-escalates military operations: Official

Also Read | Air India lost Rs 491 cr till July 2 due to closure of Pakistan airspace: Government

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