In a relief to passengers travelling to the west, Pakistan has opened the airspace after 140 days. The re-opening drops the travel times and reduces the operating expenses for the airlines. It is worth noting that after the closure of the Pakistani airspace, the flights had to be diverted to a different route which was costing the airlines more fuel.
Pakistan closed the airspace after India’s strike on Balakot terror camp on 27 February 2019. The closure forced the airlines travelling west to take longer routes, adding up the expenses and travel time.
“With immediate effect, Pakistan airspace is open for all types of civil traffic on published Air Traffic Service (ATS) routes,” stated a notice to airmen (NOTAM) from Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority.
SpiceJet Becomes First Carrier to Fly in the Airspace After Ban-Lift
SpiceJet’s flight SG 57 travelling on Jaipur-Dubai route was the first airline to enter the airspace once the ban got removed.
Air India’s San Francisco-Delhi flight AI 184, one of the longest non-stop flights worldwide, also can make the trip non-stop and direct again. “As Pakistan airspace re-opened, aircraft utilization will go up while crew requirement will fall by 25%. Operating cost of US-bound flights will drop by INR 20 lakhs one-way and for Europe-bound flights by INR 5 lakhs,” Air India said in a statement released.
Conditions Ease Up for Air India as Pakistan Lifts Ban
Air India suffered the worst due to Pakistan airspace closure as it was financially burdensome to the already debt-ridden airline. It said that it suffered a financial loss of over INR 491 crore as it had to re-route its various international flights.
IndiGo will also make its Delhi-Istanbul flight direct. “The route over Pakistan airspace will allow us to avoid flying over the waters of Iran along the Persian Gulf-Strait of Hormuz-Gulf of Oman,” an IndiGo official said.
Private airlines SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir lost INR 30.73 crore, INR 25.10 crore and INR 2.10 crore respectively, data presented by the civil aviation minister stated.