Pakistan and India closed their airspace to each other following a pre-dawn airstrike by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on an alleged terror camp in the Balakot region of Pakistan on 26 February. India has reopened airspace to Pakistani air carriers in May this year.
The Pakistan government has decided to prolong the ban on India using its airspace for commercial flights until 12 July.
A notice was issued by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that overflights in Pakistan’s airspace for nine eastern routes to and from India are to remain closed for another fortnight.
The two routes in South Pakistan that the country opened for flights to and from India in April, will remain functional.
The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced the closure of the country’s airspace for commercial flights in February of this year. The decision was taken after the Pakistani army downed an Indian military jet that had crossed the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region.
Earlier this week, the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said closing airspace is Pakistan’s problem. “Our economy is vibrant and air traffic is a very important part of it. You have noticed that the Air Force has never stopped our civil air traffic,” Dhanoa added.
Since 26 February air strike, Indian carriers have been using longer routes to connect Europe and Central Asia, and passengers are bearing the costs.
Nevertheless, Pakistan had given the nod to the opening of its airspace especially for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Bishkek to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. India however politely declined, saying there was no need.
The relations between the two nuclear-armed South Asian countries slid sharply this year after the Pulwama terrorist attack, in which at least 40 Indian soldiers were killed. Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted a retaliatory attack and destroyed alleged terror infrastructure in Balakot inside Pakistan. The following day, Pakistan retaliated and allegedly shot down an Indian fighter jet while losing one F-16 as per the IAF, in the dogfight.