No airspace restrictions between Pakistan and India

An arial view of the airplane hub at the airport in Karachi Pakistan

An arial view of the airplane hub at the airport in Karachi Pakistan

Air India on Tuesday said one-way operational cost of flights to the United States might come down by Rs 20 lakh after Pakistan reopened its airspace for all civilian traffic after months of ban on Indian aircraft, PTI reported.

Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on February 27 following the standoff with India when Indian Air Force (IAF) violated Pakistan's airspace while blaming Pakistan for an attack on a police convoy in Pulwama in Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IoK) that killed 40 Indian paramilitary police.

The move is expected to give a major relief to Air India, which suffered a huge financial loss of around Rs 491 crore as it had to re-route its various global flights due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace.

Air traffic between southeast Asian countries, notably Thailand, and western destinations was also affected, with those flights also forced to reroute.

Tuesday's development comes after Pakistan Aviation Secretary Shahrukh Nusrat told a parliamentary committee last week that Islamabad would not open its airspace until India de-escalates.

The decision will also result in restoration flights from Lahore to Delhi, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and other major aviation destinations in the east.

In mid-April, Pakistan opened one of its 11 air routes for west-bound flights from India - airlines like Air India and Turkish Airlines have started using it.

Since then, foreign carriers had been using Indian airspace have been forced to take costly detours because they can not fly over Pakistan. "The flight landed here about 1.5 hours before the schedule time that the longer route would have taken", said an official. "The Indian government approached us asking to open the airspace". Air India had incurred a loss of Rs 491 crore as of July 2 while private airline SpiceJet lost Rs 30.73 crore till June 20, IndiGo lost Rs 25.1 crore till May 31, and GoAir suffered losses worth Rs 2.1 crore till June 20, according to the data provided by Puri. Post the airstrike, Air India had to re-route or suspend many of its worldwide flights that connect India with European and USA cities.

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