Pakistan reopens airspace after India standoff

An arial view of the airplane hub at the airport in Karachi Pakistan

Pakistan on Tuesday fully reopened its airspace for all civilian traffic, ending months of restrictions affecting major global routes including from India after clashes between the nuclear-armed rivals brought them to the brink of war.

After four months and 19 days, India would also be able to use Pakistan airspace. "With this, normal air traffic operations have resumed through all Flight Information Regions between India and Pakistan", a government source said.

Pakistan closed its airspace on February 26 after Indian jets targeted Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) "terrorist" in Balakot in Mansehra District Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan on February 14.

In March, the neighbouring country partially opened its airspace but did not allow Indian flight to fly over its airspace.

"After cancellation of NOTAMS by Pakistan and India in the early hours today, there are no restrictions on airspaces of both countries, flights have started using the closed air routes, bringing a significant relief for airlines", the Twitter handle of the ministry said.

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Indian airlines lost nearly Rs 550 crore until 20 June due to Pakistan airspace closure.

A NOTAM, or Notice to Airmen, was last issued by the Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority closing the airspace. The closure mainly affects flights from Europe to Southeast Asia. A chunk of this was for flag carrier Air India, which lost Rs 491 crore till July 2, while India's largest domestic airline IndiGo incurred a loss of Rs 25.1 crore till May 31.

Post the air strike, Air India had to re-route, merge or suspend many of its global flights that connect India with European and USA cities.

Furthermore, the Civil Aviation Authority said the Kabul-Delhi flights will resume and flights will resume from eastern route.

AI has suffered the maximum loss due to Pakistan airspace closure. Till date, this IndiGo flight had to take the longer route over the Arabian Sea and make a stop at Doha in Qatar for refuelling. "This route will allow us to avoid flying over the waters of Iran along the Persian Gulf-Strait of Hormuz-Gulf of Oman (where USA has disallowed its airlines from overflying and India has asked its airlines to avoid)", said a senior IndiGo official.

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