Pakistan has lifted all airspace restrictions for civilian flights, reopening an important transit air corridor over its territory, almost five months after closing it because of escalating tension between Pakistan and India; following the shooting down of two Indian military jets.
“With immediate effect, Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes,”
According to a so-called Notice to Airmen (NOTAMS) published on July 16th on the authorities website.
This situation led to carriers having to fly around Pakistan rather than over it, with this diversion some flight times to India (especially Delhi) and South East Asia were significantly increased.
Indian Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, told his countries upper house of parliament that the airspace closure had cost Indian airlines more than $80.1m. The bulk of the losses affected Air India, the national flag carrier, which lost more than $71.65m; other carriers affected include Indian carriers SpiceJet ($4.48m), IndiGo ($3.66m) and GoAir ($0.3m).
Carriers from Asia to Europe
Below are screenshot of the actual flight route on Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore to Zurich. In April the flight took 30 minutes longer, avoiding passing over Pakistan air space.
Since the Pakistan airspace has opened again, the flight now takes a more direct routing saving 30 minutes.
Flights in and out of Delhi Were Worst Affected
All flights in and out of Delhi to/from Europe and North America were worst affected, during the 5 month closure of Pakistan air space. Most carriers have had to fly in a Southwest direction, towards Mumbai, then head West toward the Gulf of Oman before heading back Northwest towards Europe/ The Atlantic.
For longer routes, from North America to India operated by United Airlines and Air Canada, an additional stop to re-fuel was required which has been uneconomical due to landing fees and no doubt unpopular with passengers. So airlines decided to suspend the routes entirely.
United Airlines will re-start flights to India on the 6th September, Newark to Mumbai and its Newark to Delhi routes. Both routes will be operated by a Boeing 777 aircraft.
Air India & Air Canada Flights
Air India will relaunch its route between Delhi and Toronto. The airline will commence services on the route on the 27th September, using a Boeing 777-300/ER.
Air Canada will relaunch its competing Toronto to Delhi route on the 1st October operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.