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Airspace closure along Indian border extended to June 15

Updated May 30, 2019

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An aerial view of the airplane hub at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport. ─ Reuters
An aerial view of the airplane hub at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport. ─ Reuters

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan’s airspace along its eastern border with India will remain closed until 5am on June 15, a notice issued to airmen (NOTAM) by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said on Wednesday.

According to the notice, Pakistani airspace will be closed until June 14 at 23.59 (UTC) universal time. There is a difference of five hours between UTC and Pakistan time.

As per a separate NOTAM issued by the CAA, the Panjgoor airspace would remain open for overflying transit flights from the western side as Air India had already been using that airspace.

Pakistan had given a special permission to India for External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to fly directly though Pakistani airspace to participate in a top-level meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on May 21. However, the airspace for other commercial airliners remained closed.

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.

Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had said that due to closure of eastern side airspace, Pakistan was suffering from less loss compared to India as Indian commercial flights had to take longer routes for Europe.

On May 15, Pakistan extended its airspace ban for flights to India till May 30 as foreign flights using Indian airspace were not allowed to cross over Pakistan till May 30.

It has been more than two and a half months since the airspace was closed for commercial flights but, there was no progress in lifting of the ban either by Pakistan or India.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2019