Pakistan has opened one of its eleven air routes enabling west-bound flights from India to make use of its airspace. Airlines such as Air India and Turkish Airlines have reportedly started using it. This comes after Pakistan closed its airspace for commercial flights amid escalated tensions with India.
"Pakistan has been opening its airspace in tranches. On Thursday, it opened one of the 11 routes for west-bound flights. Therefore, airlines such as Air India and Turkish Airlines have started using it," a senior official was quoted by PTI.
The route P518 was opened on Thursday evening. However, as per reports, American airlines company United Airlines announced on Friday about the suspension of its flight connecting Newark airport and Delhi for two weeks.
"Since the route P518 that has been opened passes over south Pakistan, the air travel time for west-bound flights from Delhi will not decrease substantially," the official clarified.
As per reports, Pakistan had opened its airspace for all flights except for Bangkok, New Delhi and Kuala Lumpur on March 27 itself.
Pakistan had closed its airspace completely after Indian Air Force (IAF) carried pre-emptive aerial strikes on a terror camp in Pakistan's Balakot.
On February 26, after IAF's aerial strikes, majority of the airlines had suspended their Delhi-bound flights as it was commercially not feasible for them to take a longer route through the Mumbai airspace.
Reportedly, the Air India flights bound from Delhi-Washington and from Delhi-Chicago have been stopping at Mumbai for the purpose of refuelling and change of crew.
The national carrier had announced on March 13 about the suspension of flights on the New Delhi-Madrid and New Delhi-Birmingham routes from March 16 "till further notice" due to "operational reasons".
As per reports, Air India on March 14, 2019, had announced that it would combine its Mumbai-New York-bound flight with its Mumbai-Newark flight from March 16 to May 31.
Due to the closure of Pakistan airspace, the state-run airlines on March 15 had requested its "inactive" crew members to join the work immediately as it had been forced to reroute and cancel a number of Europe and US-bound flights.
(Edited by: Nehal Solanki)