Just about a week ago,
GoAir Go First launched a new flight between Srinagar and Sharjah, reopening the connectivity between Jammu and Kashmir and the United Arab Emirates after 11 years. In 2009, Srinagar was connected with Dubai by Air India Express, but the flight was discontinued owing to low demand.
The flights, scheduled four times a week, had initially passed through Pakistan Airspace, the most direct routing. Here is the screengrab from FlightRadar24 for the original routing, followed on October 23, 2021, when Go First’s flight was launched. As you can see, the flight took a shade less than four hours to complete.
At the launch of the flight, the ex-Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir hoped that this flight would not face any issues from Pakistan.
Good to see the refusal of airspace usage is a thing of the past. Perhaps there is hope for relations between the two countries. pic.twitter.com/jYgLZdqijH
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) October 23, 2021
Now, as the route was revived again (Sharjah is just next door to Dubai and a small road trip away), Pakistan has reportedly declined the use of its airspace for flights between Srinagar and Sharjah. So, on November 2, 2021, the flight had to take a longer route, flying over Udaipur, Ahmedabad and then into Oman’s FIR before arriving in Sharjah. This is just the second week of operations of this flight.
This will cost more time and fuel for the flight, which is also going to make the flight more expensive. Arguably, apart from low loads, the AIX flight from 2009 had a similar fate of Pakistan denying overflight rights, which caused the flight to be eventually discontinued.
On this, Omar Abdullah tweeted again.
Very unfortunate. Pakistan did the same thing with the Air India Express flight from Srinagar to Dubai in 2009-2010. I had hoped that @GoFirstairways being permitted to overfly Pak airspace was indicative of a thaw in relations but alas that wasn’t to be. https://t.co/WhXzLbftxf
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) November 3, 2021
I would hope that despite Pakistan’s airspace restrictions on this flight, the flight would be able to perform the mission with better aircraft this time around.
Pakistan has put restrictions on its airspace for flights operating between India’s Jammu & Kashmir state and the United Arab Emirates. Hopefully, this situation will be resolved soon. Otherwise, it would cost more time and money to operate the flight.
What do you make of Pakistan’s resistance to the use of their airspace for this specific flight?
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