In February 2019, Pakistan closed out their airspace to airlines around the world, with their tensions escalating with India. The consequence of this move was that commercial air traffic from across the world, including India, could not overfly the Pakistan air corridor and had to create huge diversions. With troubles in the Iranian Airspace as well (for the American carriers), this translated to a massive headache for airlines operating between South Asia and Europe/North America. Since then, we did not hear any positive Pakistan Airspace news.
Pakistan continued to extend the airspace closure for fifteen days at a time, and earlier this month made a statement that they won’t open up their airspace to any country till India did not remove their fighter jets from their forward airbases. Needless to say, this was also hurting Pakistan, because they were losing all the airspace navigation charges as well every time an overflight for their airspace was denied by them.
Air India, representative of the sovereign of India, refused to cow down and continued to operate flights via a much longer route during the stalemate. IndiGo, which had launched its maiden flight to Turkey, got stuck in the process as well, flying a non-straight line route to Istanbul from Delhi as a consequence. United suspended flights to India as a consequence. Air Canada suspended operations too. Given the longish nature of the closure, United had just yesterday announced that they will close their flights to India till the end of October 2019.
Pakistan Airspace is now open for all commercial flights
Earlier last month, Pakistan had made a small concession, and opened up one waypoint for India/Pakistan traffic. However, this was still at the southern tip of the air traffic corridor for both countries, so some help, but not so much.
This morning India time, Pakistan issued a new Notice to Airmen, confirming that their airspace is now open for everyone again.
Consequence of this move is that airlines have immediately readjusted their flight paths to fly over Pakistan again after the new information emerged. Air India’s European flights (from Frankfurt, Milan and Paris) have flown back to India through Pakistan’s Airspace for their flight to India this morning.
This is great news for everyone around because flying is now going to be seamless again for those flying in and out of India. You should see timings being readjusted network wide in the coming days for all airlines and things going back to normal. Also, hoping that this would aid in United, Air Canada and other carriers opening up their flights to India at the earliest.
Were your travel plans impacted by the closure of the Pakistan Airspace in any way?