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Pakistan opens airspace after 140 days

July 17, 2019

Pakistan has reopened its airspace after around 140 days for flights from India. The country had closed its airspace after the strike by India on terror camps in Balakot on 26 February.

The Pakistani airspace is located in the middle of a crucially important aviation corridor in the region. Pakistan had earlier demanded that India should remove its fighter jets from forward Indian airbases for the airspace to be put in use again for commercial flights. However, yesterday the ban on airspace use was lifted by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority. The order read, "with immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (air traffic service) routes."

The closing of Pakistani airspace had affected the flight traffic in the past few months as flights were forced to take detours which was costly as well as time consuming. The airspace was partially opened in March.

Flights coming in from Europe to Southeast Asia were the ones that were most affected apart from other commercial and cargo flights.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri had recently said in the Parliament that India had spent an extra Rs 430 crore due to route diversions.

"This rerouting of Air India flights has resulted in an increase in the operating cost by ₹13 lakh (approx) per day as the flying time has increased by approximately 15 minutes," he said. The airspace ban was also causing a huge loss of revenue to Pakistan as the country charges around $600-$700 per aircraft, a day for the use of its airspace.

The terror camp in Balakot belonged to the Jaish-e-Mohammed-JeM terror group. The strike on Balakot was prompted by the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama on 14 February in which 40 jawans of the CRPF- Central Reserve Police force were killed.

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