Pakistan extends airspace ban along eastern border with India till 28 June; sector between Delhi and Europe, US worst hit

Lahore: Pakistan on Thursday extended its airspace ban along its eastern border with India for the third time till 28 June, according to a notice issued by the country's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Pakistan fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force fighter jets struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot following the Pulwama terror attack in Kashmir.

 Pakistan extends airspace ban along eastern border with India till 28 June; sector between Delhi and Europe, US worst hit

Representational Image. AP

The CAA notice issued to airmen (NOTAM) on Thursday says, "Pakistani airspace will be closed until 28 June along its eastern border with India. The Panjgoor airspace will remain open for overflying transit flights from the western side as Air India had already been using that airspace."

A Pakistan government official told PTI that since there has been no official communication between the two countries regarding opening of their airspace for each other the "status quo" will prevail. "See if some development takes place at the government's level in this respect before 28 June," he said.

On Wednesday, Pakistan gave a special permission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's VVIP flight to use its airspace for his official trip to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

However, Prime Minister Modi's VVIP aircraft avoided flying over Pakistan. Earlier, Pakistan had allowed India's former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to fly directly though Pakistani airspace to participate in the meeting of SCO foreign ministers in Bishkek on 21 May.

Since the latest round of Indo-Pak tensions, Pakistan has only opened two air routes, both of them pass through southern Pakistan, of the total 11. The IAF announced on 31 May that all temporary restrictions imposed on Indian airspace post the Balakot airstrike have been removed.

On 15 May, Pakistan first extended the airspace ban till 30 May. Then on 30 May, it extended the ban till 15 June. Now it has prolonged the airspace ban till 28 June. As a result of the ban, foreign carriers using Indian airspace have been forced to take costly detours because they cannot fly over Pakistan.

The closure mainly affects flights from Europe to Southeast Asia. The flights from Europe and the US flying in and out of New Delhi have been the worst hit. Since Pakistan's airspace closure, the airfare on many routes have gone up significantly, including Delhi-Kabul, Delhi-Moscow, Delhi-Tehran and Delhi-Astana.

Updated Date: Jun 13, 2019 23:34:32 IST