Saturday, January 16, 2021

First Flight via Pakistan Airspace Lands in New Delhi After Three Months

Pakistan has opened its airspace for India bound flights. Etihad’s flight from Abu Dhabi to New Delhi became the first to cross into India via Pakistani airspace after a gap of more than three months. Islamabad had earlier blocked its airspace following the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) strikes at Balakot.

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Etihad Airways’ EY224 entered India from Gujarat after flying through Pakistan at 5.34 p.m., four minutes after one route between India and Pakistan was opened for flights from Pakistan, according to a senior official of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA).

The airline operated an Airbus A321 aircraft. It left Abu Dhabi at 3.10 p.m. and landed in New Delhi at 7 p.m. It was able to save 40 minutes in flight duration compared with the re-routed flight it has been operating due to airspace curbs, according to aviation website flightradar24.com.

Last week, India decided to lift restrictions on all 11 entry and exit points for flights along its border with Pakistan. Consequently, a decision was taken on Saturday by Pakistan to open one route near Lakhpat in Gujarat for flights flying via its territory into India with effect from 5.30 p.m. on June 2.

Ministry officials say the rest of the points are expected to be gradually opened for flight between and through the two countries. Early in April, Pakistan had opened one route for westward flights from India.

Pakistan closed its airspace for all flights on February 27, and India shut its airspace for flights into and from Pakistan as a reciprocal measure. While Pakistan gradually reopened its airspace for most airlines, restrictions continued for flights entering from its eastern border after traversing India.

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