There is relief likely for thousands of air travellers affected due to the closure of Pakistan airspace as India lifted curbs on use of its skies on Friday.
“Temporary restrictions on all air routes in the Indian airspace imposed by the Indian Air Force on 27 February 2019 have been removed,” the IAF posted on Twitter. The IAF communicated its decision in a letter to the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
“The ball is now in Pakistan’s court. Most likely they will also open up,” a senior official said on the condition of anonymity.
Pakistan shut its airspace for all flights on February 27 following the IAF airstrike at a Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Balakot. According to Indian officials, 11 entry and exit points, which are located between Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat, were also closed for flights to and from Pakistan as a reciprocal measure.
The government official also said that AAI has written to U.N.’s aviation watchdog, International Civil Aviation Organisation, as well as countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Oman and Iran informing them of the decision.
Since the imposition of its ban, Pakistan has gradually opened its airspace for most airlines, barring those that enter the country from its eastern border after traversing India.
On May 29, Pakistan extended its three-month long ban for flights from and through India until June 15.
As many as six international airlines have been forced to cancel a total of 33 weekly flights to Delhi due to the ban.
“For the first two weeks of June, 4258 passengers are affected. Majority of them are students from different parts of CIS studying in India and planning a trip home for their summer break,” said Air Astana’s Regional Manager for Gulf and Indian subcontinent Karlygash Omurbayeva.