Pakistan on Sunday extended the ban on its airspace for all Indian flights till June 28, authorities have said. Towards the end of May, Pakistan had extended the airspace closure for a fortnight which expired on June 14.
Pakistan had fully shut its airspace on the eastern border with India after an Indian Air Force carried out aerial airstrikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot on February 26. The strikes were in response to the terror attack in Pulwama, in which about 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives on February 14. In March, the country partially opened its airspace for all flights but not for Indian flights. In mid-April, Pakistan also opened one of its airspace for all flights but not for Indian flights.
In mid-April, Pakistan also opened one of its 11 air routes for west-bound flights from India, and airlines such as Air India and Turkish Airlines have started using it. Since then, 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.
Pakistan lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor whereby the airspace restrictions, which have been continuing since a long time, impacts hundred of commercial flights each day, extending flight timings for passengers, as well as fuel costs for airlines. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who attended the Shanghai Co-operation Organization (SCO) summit in Kyrgyz capital Bishkek last week, also had to divert his special flight and went via the circuitous route through Oman and Iran, instead of using the Pakistan air space.