By Muhammad Luqman
Pakistan’s airspace has been reopened to civil aviation with immediate effect, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said on Tuesday. Airspace restrictions have been lifted almost after five months .
“With immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes,” according to a notice to airmen (NOTAM) published on the authority’s website.
An official at the authority, reached by telephone, confirmed that the change was in effect.
Pakistan had fully closed its airspace following the violation of its international boundary and airspace by Indian fighter jets on February 26. In March, it partially opened its airspace but kept it banned for the Indian flights. India had also banned its airspace for flights to Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Aviation Secretary Shahrukh Nusrat had said last week that the Indian government had asked us to open the airspace. “We conveyed our concerns that first India must withdraw its fighter planes placed forward. We are ready to open our airspace if India de-escalates.”
The announcement came hours after United Airlines Holdings Inc said it was extending the suspension of its flights from the United States to Delhi and Mumbai in India until October 26, citing continued restrictions of Pakistani airspace, according to English newspaper Daily Dawn.
On Tuesday, flight-tracking service Flightradar24 showed several flights had begun to use the newly reopened routes over Pakistan.
The air space closure had been responsible for major losses to airlines flying between western destinations and India by causing them to reroute around Pakistan.
Air traffic between southeast Asian countries like Thailand, and western destinations was also affected, with those flights also forced to reroute.
On July 3, Indian Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told Rajya Sabha, his country’s upper house of parliament that the airspace closure had cost Indian airlines more than $80.1m.
The bulk of the losses affected Air India, the national flag carrier, which lost more than $71.65m. Other carriers affected including Indian carriers SpiceJet ($4.48m), IndiGo ($3.66m) and GoAir ($0.3m).
By Muhammad Luqman