On Wednesday, Pakistan abruptly closed down its airspace for commercial flights. The closure was due to the fledgeling conflict with India, but a tonne of flights which use the route were affected. It is estimated that over 400 flights a day were using that route, and were affected, and the Mumbai Air Corridor took a proportionate increase, with ATC controllers working multiple shifts to help with the navigation. I figured I’d put out a Pakistan Airspace Update for those who may feel the need for one.
Pakistan’s initial NOTAM mentioned airspace would open this morning. This became a moving target for some time, with the time notified for the opening of airspace being pushed forward to sometime during the day.
Now, Pakistan has issued new NOTAM.
The new NOTAM has closed the airspace to overflights till March 4, 2019, 8 AM UTC, which would be 1 PM Pakistan time. The Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan announced that flight operations at Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta airports resumed on Friday. However, the eastern side airports – Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad and Bahawalpur, will remain closed till March 4. You can check the CAA website for updates.
The new NOTAM notifies that internal flight operations inside Pakistan could now start, between the airports announced above. Also, flights entering or exiting Pakistan for accessing these airports are ok to proceed. Which means the airspace continues to look like this.
The closure of the airspace left thousands of air travellers stranded worldwide and more than than 700 international and domestic flights were cancelled during the last three days to and from the country including flights to New Delhi. And Pakistan continues to miss out on all the revenue for the overfly rights as well.
That means flights from Delhi to the West, or back into Delhi, will continue to be taking a couple of extra hours in the coming days. That is a lot of fuel wasted.
How long drawn out do you think this will be?