The Pakistan airspace closure imposed by Islamabad after India-Pakistan clashes in February are affecting hundreds of commercial and cargo flights, according to OPSGROUP, which monitors international flight operations.
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In a report titled “No end in sight for Pakistan airspace restrictions,” the group calculated that the closed airspace was affecting as many as 350 flights daily. OPSGROUP made this calculation using data provided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
A map of regional flights, made recently by the Reuters, reported that the restrictions affected at least 311 flights between four airports in Europe and four in Southeast Asia.
Pakistan continues to restrict its airspace after an airstrike in late February by the Indian military in northern Pakistan. Most of the restrictions implemented in February remain in place, effective through to May 15 at the earliest.
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OPSGROUP and FlightRadar24, another flight monitoring agency, noted that the disruption is forcing “international airlines to take costly and time-consuming detours, adding flight time for passengers and fuel costs for airlines”.
Pakistan lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor. Flights to India often pass directly over Pakistan and some come extremely close to Kashmir, where India and Pakistan engaged in air clashes in February.
FlightRadar24 named Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa and Thai Airways among the airlines whose flights fly close to Kashmir. The Indian media reported this week that Air India has suffered losses of around Rs 300 crore since late February as its long haul flights from New Delhi are taking longer to reach destinations in Europe, the Gulf and the US because of the closure of Pakistan’s airspace.