A SpiceJet aircraft carrying 120 passengers was intercepted by Pakistan Air Force fighter jets last month after it entered the neighbouring country's airspace while flying from New Delhi to Kabul. The plane was then escorted out of Pakistan airspace.
The incident happened on September 23, sources in Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) told India Today. Officials at aviation regulator said that SpiceJet's Boeing 737 aircraft was intercepted in Pakistan airspace following confusion over the 'call-sign' assigned to it.
Once in Pakistan airspace, the aircraft was intercepted by Pakistan Air Force fighter jets, which news agency ANI reported were F-16s. Upon asked to lower the plane's altitude, the SpiceJet pilots communicated that they were a commercial airline, following which they were allowed to continue on their course. Pakistan fighter jets escorted the Indian aircraft till it entered Afghan airspace. DGCA declined to divulge any further details citing the sensitivity of the matter. SpiceJet has not commented on the matter.
Pakistan had closed its airspace for India following Indian Air Force's air strikes on Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps in Balakot in February. It had reopened the airspace 138 days later on July 16. Pakistan aviation minister had said that the country suffered losses over $50 million due to airspace restrictions.
In September, though, Pakistan denied airspace access to President Ram Nath Kovind for his flight to Iceland. A few days later, Pakistan also refused to allow Air India One carrying Prime Minister Narendra Modi into its airspace. PM Modi had to travel to the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly and the 'Howdy! Modi' event.