Islamabad: Pakistan has extended its eastern airspace ban for commercial flights to and from India till July 12, the country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said on Friday.
This is the fourth time Pakistan has done so, said a report in a leading daily.
In a notice about the route guidelines to pilots, the CAA said that Pakistan’s airspace for nine eastern routes for flights to and from India was to remain shut for another fortnight. The two southern routes that Pakistan had opened for Indian flights in April will remain functional.
It said the government will review the matter after two weeks. Islamabad shut the airspace on February 26 this year following the Balakot airstrikes by India in retaliation to Pulwama terror attack that left 44 CRPF personnel dead on February 14.
Sources told the daily that the ban would continue till the issue was resolved between the two countries. They said Pakistan wanted the assurance that Balakot-like strikes will not be repeated. On March 27, Pakistan had opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi. Since May 15, the ban on eastern airspace has been extended four times.
Stating that the closure was due to security and diplomatic reasons, a top CAA official that in the last four months, flag carriers of both the countries had incurred huge losses. Since the closure of Pakistani airspace, the Indian aviation industry has suffered bigger losses than that of the neighbouring country.
Several foreign airlines are also forced to take longer routes to reach their destinations. The closure of Pakistani airspace has affected flights from Europe to Southeast Asia while the flights from Europe and the US flying in and out of New Delhi have been the worst hit.
Earlier, Pakistan had permitted PM Narendra Modi’s aircraft to fly through its airspace to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, on June 13 and 14. However, India chose not to take the favour.