Since the onset of 2019, overseas flights to and from India have been affected due to airspace restrictions and international border tensions. The things just started falling in place with normalcy and equilibrium getting restored in the Asia-Pacific region of global aviation by the end of July; Pakistan is reported to shut its airspace for airlines operating to and from India for a second time this year.
Reportedly, Pakistan decided to not only restrict its airspace for India but also suspend bilateral trade with India, in the event of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir having been repealed with the abolition of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The fresh embitterment of diplomatic relations between the two neighboring countries is, no doubt, a threat to Indian aviation.
The re-closure of Pak airspace till September 5 will take a toll on Air India that operates nearly 50 daily flights through Pakistan. Most of these direct flights are to the United States and Europe.
Pakistan’s closure of its airspace from February 26 till July 11 this year has incurred an overwhelming loss of over INR 548 crore to Indian airlines, including the whopping loss of more than INR 400 crore to Air India alone. While the debt-ridden national carrier of India is grappling with ways to recoup the loss, it has come again on the verge of another setback.
The partial closure of Pak airspace, as announced this morning (August 7), will result in rerouting of certain flights to and from India, and that in turn will cause flight delays and cancellations. Needless to say, the duration of USA to India flights, including direct Air India flights will be increased by half an hour or so because of their rerouting to avoid the airspace of Pakistan.
United Airlines’ direct flights to India from Newark, which were suspended due to the earlier closure of Pak airspace for India, are likely to be resumed by October 26 this year.
Both Lufthansa and British Airways resumed their service to India in July following Pakistan’s withdrawal of the ban on flights to and from India in its airspace. The escalating tension between the two neighboring countries is to make those airlines either reroute or cancel their flights to India.