Pakistan air space which was closed since the Balakot airstrike in February 2019 is open now, Indian flights to operate soon.
On July 16th 2019, Pakistan has opened its air space for the civil air traffic, and this will effectively remove the ban on Indian flight which was not allowed to use the majority of the Pakistani air space after the February Balakot airstrike.
This move will be a major relief for Air India as they had suffered a financial loss of about 491 crores because they had to reroute their majority of the international flights as the Pakistani air space was closed.
“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 told PTI.
Around 12:41 AM (IST), Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority, had issued a notice to airmen NOTAM which stated that “with immediate effect, Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (air traffic service) routes.”
On 26th February 2019, Pakistan closed its air space after the IAF did an airstrike on the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) training camp in Balakot.
This attack was made in retaliation to the Pulwama attack on February 14th. After this attack, Pakistan had only opened two routes out of the eleven which were passing through the southern regions.
On the 31st of May, the Indian air force removed all the temporary restrictions which they had laid down post the Balakot Airstrike. Though, this movie didn’t help any Indian airlines; as they were waiting for Pakistan to open its air space fully.
According to the data which was presented by Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in the Rajya Sabha on July 3rd Air India suffered the most because the majority of its international flights from Delhi to Europe and the US use the Pakistani air space.
Till July 2nd air India had incurred a lost 491 crore. The private airlines also incurred huge losses. IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir have incurred a loss of 25.1 crores, 30.73 crores, and 2.1 crores respectively.
After the airstrike, Air India had to merge, suspend or reroute its international flights which connected India with European cities.
Indigo was unable to start its direct flights from Delhi to Istanbul because the Pakistani air space was closed. Till now, Indigo had to take longer routes which were over the Arabian Sea, and they had to make a stop at Doha in Qatar for refuelling.